Derry city deal: Match funding to be put to executive 'within weeks'

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A train travelling along the waterfront in Londonderry

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has confirmed he will put match funding for the city deal for the Derry City and Strabane council area to the Stormont executive within a "matter of weeks".

The government announced £105m for the city deal in May last year.

If the executive agrees to match the funding it would bring the overall package to more than £200m.

Mr Murphy said he hoped it would be in place before the 30 March deadline for the Northern Ireland budget.

Image caption,
Ulster University intends to expand its Magee campus in Derry

The minister met representatives of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and Ulster University on Wednesday.

He told BBC Radio Foyle there would be a "clearer picture" on the timeframe after the government releases its budget on 11 March.

"We can try and allocate, if anything flows from that, into our own budget," he said.

"That doesn't mean there is a question mark over this - it's just how we fit the various monies that are required across all the departments."

Image source, Department of Finance
Image caption,
Conor Murphy met Prof Paul Bartholomew of Ulster University to discuss its expansion

The bulk of the city deal funding is earmarked for Ulster University's expansion and the medical school at the university's Magee campus.

The expansion of the university and the medical college in the north-west of Northern Ireland has long been regarded as a catalyst for economic growth in the region.

"The expansion of Magee is critical - it is not a singular thing but it is a key factor in terms of a broader delivery," said Mr Murphy.

The minister also responded to questions about the long-running campaign for a cross-Irish border independent university in the city.

Mr Murphy said: "If someone is going to bring in an alternative approach to all of that, we need to ensure it doesn't stop things that are already afoot and it doesn't set us back to square one."