Government to commit €45m for major expansion of Derry university

Minister for Justice to seek Cabinet approval for review of report on future of Special Criminal Court, majority and minority reports to be published on Tuesday

The Government will on Tuesday announce €45 million in funding for Ulster University’s campus in Derry as part of a plan to greatly expand cross-Border education in the northwest.

The Cabinet is expected to approve the venture, one of the biggest investments to date from the €1 billion Shared Island fund.

It will fund a new teaching and student building at the Derry campus that will have lecture and seminar spaces, computer labs and student services.

The new building will form part of Ulster University’s plan to have a campus that can increase student capacity in Derry to 6,500.


The Government has also taken the view that this Shared Island initiative will deepen research and teaching links with the Letterkenny campus of the Atlantic Technological University, as well as promoting cross-Border education. A significant increase in size will result in more students from Donegal choosing Derry university as their first option.

The Cabinet is also expected to approve a further €5 million in funding for a number of other projects including a new respite and therapeutic centre for children diagnosed with cancer and their families from across the island of Ireland.

Funding will also be provided to complete the tender process for the Narrow Water Bridge which will link counties Louth and Down across Carlingford Lough.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will also seek approval for the review of the long-awaited report on the future of the Special Criminal Court.

The review group, chaired by former Court of Appeal judge Michael Peart, began work in 2021. The group was split on the future of the non-jury court, with a minority recommending its abolition. However, a majority were of the view that the court should be retained, albeit with reforms.

Both majority and minority reports will be published on Tuesday. The annual renewal of the emergency legislation that underpins the court will occur at the end of the month, at which time the Oireachtas must vote on giving the court its remit for a further year. Much attention will focus on Sinn Féin’s position on the Special Criminal Court. Since 2021 it has abstained on the vote but any support for an extension from the main Opposition party would be contingent on significant reforms being recommended by the majority report.

On a busy Cabinet agenda, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman will seek approval for new legislation to ban so-called conversion practice.

Mr O’Gorman is expected to say he intends to introduce a new criminal law that will ban these practices and also all advertising of the services.

In line with legislation in other jurisdictions, the legislation will cover conversion practices aimed at both sexual orientation and gender identity.

The legislation follows research conducted at TCD which found conversion practices have taken place in some instances in Ireland, and set out how these practices operate. It confirmed the significant harm that is inflicted on those who experience such practices.

The research findings mirrored the international evidence that conversion practices are ineffective and harmful.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times