Magee medical school funding agreed by Executive
A multimillion pound funding package needed to open a medical school in Londonderry has now been agreed by the NI Executive.
The Executive has allocated ringfenced funding for the school at Ulster University's Magee campus..
It has allocated £26m capital funding and £9m per year to annual running costs.
The school was to open last year but plans to train doctors in Derry have been beset by delays.
"Work is ongoing to progress the Graduate Entry Medical School at Magee and the Executive has today agreed to provide the necessary funding assurances to the Department for the Economy and Ulster University by allocating ring-fenced funding for the project," a spokesman for the Executive Office said.
The Foyle MP Colum Eastwood welcomed the executive's funding commitment.
"The people of this city have been denied better university provision for far too long," the SDLP leader said.
He added: "This must represent a first step in a larger expansion of university provision in the north west. We need to be ambitious for Derry and the wider region, investing in skills is critical to transforming our economy".
DUP MLA Gary Middleton said the Executive funding will "allow Ulster University to take in the next stage of the process, to allow the recruitment of students and staff. But most importantly this is a welcome boost for the north west".
Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan said the funding was "great news for the city".
"The delivery of the graduate entry medical school will not only enable us to produce doctors to serve our local communities, it will be an important economic driver for the whole north west region," she said.
Plans for a medical school in Derry were first mooted in the mid-2000s, and submitted to the General Medical Council in 2016.
Millions of pounds have been allocated to the school and to wider university expansion in Derry via the £105m Derry and Strabane city deal announced in May 2019.
Some £55m has been allocated to an inclusive future fund for the region. From this fund, £30m capital investment has been proposed to help finance the medical school.
And in May this year Stormont announced it would match the city deal funding - bringing the city deal funds for the north west to £210m.
The school most also now achieve accreditation from the General Medical Council. A decision on the latest stage in that process is due later this summer.
The only medical school in Northern Ireland at present is at Queen's University in Belfast (QUB). About 270 doctors graduate each year.