Veterinary School for Northern Ireland

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 8th September 2020.

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Photo of Maurice Bradley Maurice Bradley DUP 2:30 pm, 8th September 2020

T6. Mr M Bradley asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs whether he would support a business case to demonstrate the need for a veterinary school in Northern Ireland, given that he spoke earlier about the importance of vets during the COVID-19 outbreak. (AQT 326/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Yes, I would, particularly on the basis that a lot of our young people are having to go outside the UK to study veterinary science. 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.

Photo of Maurice Bradley Maurice Bradley DUP

I mentioned this at an Agriculture Committee meeting not that long ago and also at a recent meeting with the new Ulster University vice chancellor, Professor Paul Bartholomew. It is my view that this needs to be explored in conjunction with the Department for the Economy. An initial proposal has mooted the Coleraine campus as a possible site. I am keen to progress this proposal to a reality.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

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.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

A 10-second question, Mr Buckley. The Minister will get a 10-second answer.