Speaking about a shared island today the Taoiseach Micheál Martin committed to ‘coordinated investment’ at Ulster University’s Magee campus in Derry.
For around 60 years the people of Derry have campaigned for a full-sized university in the city.
Current ambitions of expanding to 10,000 full-time students fall short by 7,544 places, according to the most recent figures obtained by the Derry News.
Last week, the Irish Government announced the Shared Island Fund as part of Budget 2021.
It says €500m will be made available over the next five years for Shared Island projects.
This is said to complement the significant support for peace and progress on the island that will be delivered through the EU PEACE PLUS programme and Government’s existing all-island commitments, including to the North/South Bodies, to cross-border health services and the Reconciliation Fund.
Mr Martin said the government is providing significant new Shared Island capital funds to meet the level of ambition to build a shared island underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement.
“This is a game-changing approach to how we invest in support of the Agreement,” Mr Martin said.
Expanding on Magee investment, he added: “We are strongly committed to working with the Executive and the British Government on new investment development opportunities in the North West and Border communities.
“Clearly, access to higher and further education is fundamental to greater economic opportunity. The Government’s commitment to coordinated investment at University of Ulster Magee Campus in Derry is one important part of how we can achieve that together in the North West.
“Through the Shared Island Fund, we are ready to make that investment, and consider other opportunities, so that we address the unique economic challenges of border regions in a strategic and integrated way.
“It means that our Shared Island priorities are resourced and fixed where they belong at the top of our agenda and at the centre of Government.”
A5 TRANSPORT CORRIDOR
He went on to address overdue progress on ‘long-standing joint commitments’ to cross-border investment in the A5 transport corridor, the Ulster Canal and the Narrow Water Bridge.
“We want to progress investment in cross-border greenways, like the Ulster Canal and the Sligo-Enniskillen route, which can support sustainable regional development.
“I also look forward to progress on scoping the viability of high-speed cross border rail links.
“Through the Shared Island Fund, the Government is ready to meet our commitments to these projects.
“We will be working closely with the Executive to seek to move ahead with full delivery, without undue delay,” said the Taoiseach.
More broadly, he discussed the need to enhance connectivity on the island, to support the further growth of the all-island economy and expand Ireland’s social, cultural, sporting, artistic and civic connections.
He continued: “Investment in research and innovation is of course central to economic and societal progress and to building a better future
“I have long been an advocate for proper, sustained investment in scientific research. I know from experience and from speaking to researchers and industry the gains that are there to be realised through a North/South programme of research and innovation, operating at scale.
“There are particular knowledge bases across the island on moving to a carbon-neutral economy, cyber security, food security, as well as next generation cancer treatment and biomedical devices.
“This enormous and exciting potential is at the core of why we are supporting an all-island research hub.
“We are ready to discuss and take these areas forward in partnership with the Executive, through the NSMC and working with the British Government.
“And through the Shared Island Fund we will make the investments needed to deliver results on a collaborative North/South basis.”
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