Coleraine is a ‘logical site’ for a Veterinary School for Northern Ireland – that was the view of the DAERA Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, when East Londonderry MLA Maurice Bradley asked if the Minister would support a business case for such a school in Northern Ireland during Tuesday’s Question Time.
Bradley said that a proposal for a Veterinary School ‘needed to be explored’ in conjunction with the Department of the Economy, and asked the Agriculture Minister if he would ‘support a business case to demonstrate the need’ for such a facility in Northern Ireland.
Responding to MLA Bradley, the Agriculture Minister said: “In our veterinary practices, there are many people who have come from outside Northern Ireland — outside the United Kingdom and Ireland, for that matter.
“It is quite common to have vets from many parts of Europe, for example, working here in Northern Ireland. I do not have any issue with those people working in Northern Ireland, by the way, but I think that it is much more sustainable to have vets who have been trained at home, have stayed here and will carry out the work here.
“I am very supportive. The agriculture industry needs that professionalism and that skill base. We need a facility like that, even for qualitative research to happen, so I am very supportive of that.”
Bradley told the Chamber that an initial proposal had mooted Ulster University’s Coleraine campus as a possible site. “I am keen to progress this proposal to a reality,” he said.
Minister Poots backed his DUP colleague saying: “I am perfectly happy to support such a proposal, if it comes forward from the Department for the Economy.
“Coleraine is an entirely logical site. I know that it has been talked about for some time.
“There was also talk, certainly some time back, of private sector support. We have significant interests, both in production and on the agriculture side, in having such a facility and that qualitative training. It would be a major boost for Ulster University to have it, and it would really help to move things forward at the Coleraine campus.”
MLA Bradley has since written to the Economy Minister, Diane Dodds with a view to progressing the business case, he said: “This would be a major boost to the agricultural industry here in Northern Ireland and I am keen to find out the views of the Minister for the Economy.