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22/09/2021

Derry University Group says ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ for the North West must be seized

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The Derry University Group say that civic society has a responsibility to future generations to seize this opportunity to build a new, dedicated university in the North West. A spokesperson for the group told the Derry News: “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. There is currently, after years of campaigning, a genuine momentum of support building in Dublin and in London for a new university here. “We need to harness this carefully and creatively, to deliver a standalone Higher Education institution for our city region. “There is a real chance to redress 60 years of isolation and alienation and to build hope and prosperity for future generations in northwest Ireland. “We must be careful not to be side-tracked into short-term fixes as we have been before. We have an opportunity here to create a legacy that will endure for centuries.” The spokesperson added that the North West must immediately begin revising its current ‘tenuous’ development plans so as to accommodate a new university. “It is a matter of great concern that so much of this region’s future planning centres on promises made by Ulster University, an institution controlled in Belfast and Coleraine, which has consistently failed Derry and northwest Ireland – and has broken promise after promise to this city - over the past six decades. “As regards the long-term planning of the region, it is not acceptable that we do build and deliver our own alternative. Derry and the North West have the capability, the determination and the vision to deliver a better future for ourselves. “It is reckless and perilous to remain entirely dependent on outside institutions that will always, by necessity, serve their own interests and those of their friends first. Why should we continue to acquiesce to those who have failed us, misled us and ultimately alienated us over six different decades?” The spokesperson added that a new Derry-centred institution, with a cross-border element under the auspices of the National University of Ireland, could help militate against the impact of Brexit. “Derry/Strabane Council needs, as its first priority, to re-draft its City Deal to ensure that it can include a new independent university as its new anchor partner. “Council also needs to engage pro-actively with the Dublin and London governments to enact supporting legislation, and to secure resources, funding other support and accreditation for this new dedicated institution for the North West. “The positive momentum is there. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. We have a responsibility to future generations to seize this opportunity and build a new, dedicated university in the North West.” The Derry University Group, which is based at Ráth Mór, was established in 2013 by Conal McFeely, Diane Greer and Garbhan Downey.

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