By Michael Kane
Minister of State, Deputy Thomas Byrne, has affirmed the government’s determination to keep to the commitments stated in the New Decade, New Approach agreement. This includes the vital investment in the expansion of the Magee Campus.
Deputy Byrne vowed to ensure that maximum progress would be made in implementing all of the commitments for the benefit of everyone on the island of Ireland, North and South.
“The Government welcomes the development of plans for ambitious new higher education provisions at Ulster University Magee campus in Derry.
“The investment has the potential to increase access to third level education for young people on a cross-Border basis, enable further co-operation between third level institution in the North West and underpin broader economic development and opportunities in the region.
“The Government is willing in principle to contribute to capital investment to support expanded provisions at Magee campus, alongside the commitment made by the UK Government as part of the New Decade, New Approach agreement. We look forward to early discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive on taking forward this co-ordination.”
This was in response to a question posed by Senator Elisha McCallion at the Seanad Éireann debate on 30 September. She challenged the government to keep to their commitments in order to avoid ‘another false dawn’ for the people of Derry and the North West.
Senator McCallion stressed the need for political leadership in order to see the agreement through.
“All the good work and endeavours of the North West further and higher education cross-Border cluster can only go so far.
“We have a political agreement on the need to expand the university in Derry for the wider North West and we need political leadership from the Minister of State, the Executive in the North, the British Government, and the two councils in Derry and Donegal.”
Senator McCallion requested that this matter be put on the agenda of the next meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council. Deputy Byrne said he would pass on the Senator’s request to the Taoiseach and the Ministers.
The New Decade, New Approach agreement was published on 9 January 2020, and formed the basis for the parties in the North to resume operating and power-sharing Assembly and Executive.