Colum Eastwood seems to blank out the fact that Londonderry already has a university

A letter from Dr Paul Kingsley:

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 5:30 am
Letter to the editor

In the Derry Journal (‘Two govts must set roadmap for new Derry uni,’ May 28, see link below), SDLP MP, Colum Eastwood has written about a supposed 50 year struggle to get a university established in Londonderry.

He wrote “Those in authority in the Executive need to understand that this campaign will not stop.”

Now you may be scratching your head wondering what the Magee campus of Ulster University is if it is not a university. Apparently it is a figment of unionists’ imagination. Can we expect Coleraine to follow suit by demanding a university on the grounds that it does not recognise the university currently established there?

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Magee has been treated very generously. It has a very poor record of attracting Protestant students into an area of Londonderry where few Protestants live and many feel unsafe.

Intimidation and terrorism reduced the Protestant population on the West Bank of the Foyle by at least 10,000. The one-time majority Protestant population around Magee simply fled.

If a university campus in a Protestant area had such a poor record of attracting Catholics, it would not have received funding.

But now it seems we need a more explicitly Irish “Derry” university which will probably attract even less Protestant students.

You have got to admire Eastwood’s ability to simply blank out the university currently operating in his constituency.

As a footnote, we must decry Eastwood’s attempt to rewrite history over the second university issue in the 1960s.

He claims the University for Londonderry idea arose from the civil rights movement’s demands. Incorrect.

The 1960s demand for a university in the city began in 1961 when the editor of the Unionist Londonderry Sentinel, Sidney Buchanan, launched a determined campaign for a university in five consecutive weekly editions of the newspaper, beginning on 28 June 1961.

He followed this up at intervals as different stakeholders got behind the idea. Buchanan was disappointed to find that the nationalist Derry Journal showed little interest. Nationalists did not jump on the bandwagon until a few years later.

Dr Paul Kingsley, Belfast BT4

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