Other News In Brief

SDLP Welcomes New Ulster University Task Force

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has welcomed the news of a new task force established to try and boost the student population of Ulster University in L'Derry.

Mr Eastwood worked with the Irish Government to secure €45 million to create a new teaching and student services building at the Magee Campus, secured a commitment to expanding the campus to 10,000 students during the New Decade New Approach negotiations and funding for the graduate entry medical school from former Secretary of State Julian Smith.

The Foyle MP said that the potential of university expansion must now be matched by action from the Executive.

Speaking this afternoon, Colum Eastwood MP said: "Expanding university provision in Derry is a key way to unlock new opportunities for our city and ambition for people who live here. It has been a key campaign objective of mine and a priority for the SDLP. I am genuinely pleased that Executive Ministers have listened and are now stepping up as well.

"In 2019 during the negotiations that led to New Decade New Approach, I made the expansion of Magee a key commitment for our negotiators and secured an outcome in the final agreement to increase student numbers to 10,000 and establish the Medical School in Derry with associated financial support for the graduate entry medical school. I also worked with the Irish Government through the Shared Island initiative to secure €45 million to create a new teaching and student services building at the Magee campus. We have already made significant progress and the support of Ministers for our campaign is deeply welcome.

"We have an unmissable opportunity to unlock Derry's potential as a cross border hub of investment for skills, students and new tech in the North West. It is a huge part of our ambition for the city. The only way we can do that is with investment in people, infrastructure and institutions to make it happen. I have been making the case at Westminster, my colleague Sinead McLaughlin is preparing legislation in the Assembly and we now have a Taskforce led by Stephen Kelly and Nicola Skelly who I know will work hard to deliver the key university expansion we need to drive our ambitions.
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"The establishment of the task force represents a positive development, it is crucial that this announcement is not the culmination of our efforts but the beginning of a tangible and sustained plan of action. The commitment to expanding the student body to 10,000, alongside the strategic investment in infrastructure and resources, must be urgent. The time for action is now."

Alliance Welcomes Simon Harris As New Taoiseach-In-Waiting

The Alliance Party has Welcome Simon Harris As New Taoiseach-In-Waiting and new leader of Fine Gael.

Mr Harris was the only candidate to seek nomination for the Fine Gael leadership position and was announced as the winner on Sunday, 24 March. Party leader, Naomi Long said she was hopeful he could maintain the positive relationships his predecessors had with those in the north when he becomes Taoiseach.

"I congratulate Simon Harris on his election as Fine Gael leader and with that, becoming Taoiseach-in-waiting, and wish him all the best for the role," she said.

"As I mentioned when Leo Varadkar resigned, Northern Ireland and the south have a positive relationship, more than at any point in our shared history. I am confident Simon Harris can continue to foster that strong co-operation in his new role.

"We face many challenges in the time ahead and politicians and parties north and south working together can only strengthen our ability to resolve them. I look forward to working with Simon Harris to do just that."

Appeal Following Incidents Of Criminal Damage In L'Derry

L'Derry PSNI investigating criminal damage caused at a number of locations in the Waterside and Cityside areas have issued an appeal for information and witnesses.

Making the appeal, Sergeant Garth Bennett said: "Graffiti daubed on walls and murals was reported to police on 22nd March at locations in the Irish Street and Fountain Estate areas. A number of murals have been damaged as well as a wall of a community centre and the wall of another building. 

"These incidents are being investigated as sectarian hate crimes and our appeal to anyone with information to call 101, quoting reference number 1806 of 22/03/24."

You can also make a report online via www.psni.police.uk/report or Crimestoppers, which can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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