Plea for peaceline campus

February 16, 1996

Ulster University sought to inject a renewed sense of urgency into its plans for a so called peaceline campus this week, as the peace process in Northern Ireland limped on amid the threat of further IRA violence.

The Springvale campus project has been hanging in the balance for more than three years as Government ministers prevaricate over funding decisions and possible political consequences.

Wallace Ewart, director of the Springvale Campus project, said Ulster was eagerly awaiting the go-ahead to build a campus straddling the West/North Belfast peaceline.

"We would like to see a decision brought forward," Professor Ewart said.

After last Friday's bombing in London a green light would provide an important boost for those trying to find a formula for peace.

This week ministers received the final version of a consultants' report on the viability of the project, earlier drafts of which had expressed reservations. "If the Government says 'no' now, we will feel let down, as if they have given up on us," Professor Ewart said.

Ulster University vice chancellor Trevor Smith warned last year that further delay and uncertainty was jeopardising the much-needed project which aimed at combating social deprivation and neglect in the area. The university has secured European Union funding, contingent on a decision over funds from the Northern Ireland office.

Within Belfast itself support for the campus has not been universal. Patrick Murphy, director of Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education,is an outspoken critic of the project. He said the debate over Springvale must be replaced by the development of a strategic package for the city and its surrounding area based on the manufacturing industry.

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