Other News In Brief

UU Magee Taskforce Holds First Official Meeting

A new taskforce formed to oversee the expansion of the student base of Ulster University's L'Derry campus has held its first official meeting.

The Ulster University Magee Taskforce , launched last month by Economy Minister Conor Murphy, agreed its terms of reference and received updates from the Department for the Economy, Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Ulster University about their work to date and how they will support the taskforce in delivering a co-designed action plan by December 2024. 

Minister Murphy said: "I am pleased that the Magee Taskforce has held its first meeting and has already started to hear representations from stakeholders on what would be required to expand the campus to 10,000 students.Achieving this figure is a commitment under New Decade New Approach and a key priority of mine. The expansion of the campus will act as a prime enabler for economic growth in the North West region.I wish the taskforce members well and look forward to receiving its action plan in due course."

Confirmed taskforce members currently include:

• Stephen Kelly, Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI (Chair)

• Nicola Skelly, Executive Director of the Washington Ireland Program (Vice Chair) 

• Professor Paul Bartholomew, Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University

• Moira Doherty, Deputy Secretary, Skills and Education Group, Department for the Economy

• Steven Lindsay, Deputy Vice President, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

• Alison Wallace, Strategy Manager, Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership

• Paddy Mackel, Representative from University and College Union

• Paul Hannigan, Head of College, Atlantic Technological College Donegal

• Rebecca Allen, President, Ulster University Students Union

• Dawn McLaughlin, Non-Executive Director, Invest NI

• John Kelpie, Chief Executive, Derry City & Strabane District Council

• Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive, North West Regional College

• Gavin Kileen MBE, Managing Director, Nuprint Technologies Limited

Having received an initial update from the Department, Council and University, the taskforce will consider adding further members to address any specific gaps, need or skills as well as inviting input and engagement. They will meet again in around one month to ensure work continues at pace.

SDLP Congratulates Simon Harris On Taoiseach Appointment

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has offered his "warm congratulations" to Simon Harris TD, who has been officially named Ireland's new Taoiseach.
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The SDLP Leader said that he looked forward to working with the Taoiseach to strengthen North South Cooperation, build on the work of the shared island unit and explore new ways to enhance services for people across Ireland.

Colum Eastwood MP said: "I want to offer my warm congratulations to Simon Harris as he takes up the office of Taoiseach. It is a huge honour and challenge to lead our country and we are all invested in his success.

"Over the last number of years I’ve had the opportunity to work with the new Taoiseach on a number of projects, including securing €45 million of additional investment through the Shared Island Fund to support the expansion of university provision in Derry. I know that he has an abiding interest in the North and has worked in previous cabinet roles to provide support, investment and enhanced services on a North South basis.

"I look forward to working with the Taoiseach to strengthen North South cooperation, which has suffered as a result of the suspension of devolution in the North, to build on the work of the Shared Island Unit and to continue the important work of bringing the people and traditions that share our island together."

Alliance Host A1 Campaigners At Stormont To Address Development Concerns

The Alliance Party has welcomed a delegation of A1 redevelopment campaigners to Stormont.

Campaigners brought their concerns relating to the lack of significant progress on Phase 2 upgrades to the Minister for Infrastructure, and to MLAs on the Infrastructure Committee. They also approached the Business Committee about formally presenting Monica's petition to the Assembly.

Phase 2 upgrades aim to provide further safety improvements along the A1 between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland, including provision of new grade-separated junctions, the closing of all gaps in the central reservations, and the provision of continuous central reservation safety barriers. Between 2002 and 2019 there have been 661 collisions and 41 people killed on the A1.

Cllr Ferguson has said "Even with the return of ministers, we still have no clarity on whether the needed funding will be allocated. The closure of the central reservation and the erection of a safety barrier is just one example of a feature within the Phase 2 plans which would immediately help prevent further collisions.

"We simply cannot afford to see any more death, injury, or all-around tragedy on this stretch of road, especially when the plans for much-needed redevelopment exist, and are just waiting to be picked up.

"I would urge the Minister to allocate the budget needed and respect the needs and wishes of the public and campaigners like Monica Heaney and Sinead Lunny, who have experienced indescribable grief and injury due to the absence of safety measures that have been in planning for years."

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