MLAs fear for the future of Ballymoney campus

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Employment Minister Stephen Farry said he was "hopeful" of securing funding for the North Regional College (NRC), on 1 April 2014.

He was replying to an adjournment debate on the future of the NRC's Ballymoney campus brought by the DUP's Mervyn Storey.

The minister said he recognised that the college "hasn't yet benefited from the degree of investment seen elsewhere" and the estate was "not fit for purpose or in line with the standards expected by my department".

Mr Farry said accountants and economists were liaising with the college to assess the business case which would then be put before the Department of Finance.

The NRC Ballymoney campus has approximately 1,000 students and specialises in the performing arts, music production, catering and media production.

Mr Storey said the regional college had "played a pivotal and successful role in the post-16 education of young people in Ballymoney - it has served many hundreds of young people in pursuing their professional careers".

The North Antrim MLA said there was "a real concern that the lights are going out and the decision has been made that the long term future of the college is not going to be in Ballymoney".

Sinn Fein's Daithi McKay said, "Ballymoney has a lot going for it," and "we shouldn't go ahead with a decision without considering the domino effect for the town", which he said could be "damning, almost fatal".

The UUP's Robin Swann, SDLP's John Dallat and the DUP's Paul Frew and David McIlveen and the TUV's Jim Allister also spoke on the issue.

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