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Sinn Féin lobbies Health Departments in Ireland over North West Cancer Care - Ní Chuilín

3 October, 2007

In a co-ordinated action, Sinn Fein representatives from throughout the North West have presented a letter and petition of protest to Department of Health Permanent Secretaries in Dublin and Belfast today over the continued failure of Ministers Mary Harney and Michael Mc Gimpsey to progress plans for a satellite radiation unit based in the North West of Ireland serving cancer patients on a cross border basis.

Sinn Fein elected representatives from Donegal, Strabane, Omagh, Derry and Limivady took part in today's action, accompanied by Health Committee member Carál Ní Chuilín to highlight what the party describes as the continued lack of political will being exhibited by both Ministers in their continued failure to include the issue of a satellite cancer radiation unit for the North West, on the agenda of their North South Ministerial discussions.

Speaking following today's Sinn Féin protest action, Health Committee MLA Carál Ní Chuilín, who has supported the provision of a satellite cancer centre based at either Altnagelvin or Letterkenny said,

"Both health ministers have a joint obligation to undertake collaborative projects on a cross-border basis to the benefit of people on both sides of the border and I made this clear to the Health Department private secretary today.

"It would have therefore been expected - given that cancer patients in the North West counties are further removed from access to radiotherapy services, than any other region of Ireland that the establishment of a satellite cancer radiation centre in the North West would have been a major priority for both Ministers in terms of ensuring equality of access to these vital services.

"To date, the response of both Ministers to repeated representations on the issue has been dismal.

"Planning and configuration of cancer service provision on an All-island basis would justify an oncology unit for the entire North West instead of very ill patients from this region being forced to undergo the additional burden of repeated and prolonged journeys to the to Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Galway.

"Today's protest by representatives from throughout the Northwest, accompanied by myself as member of the Assembly Health Committee highlights the fact that both Ministers are failing the people of the North West by not being prepared to take an all-Ireland and cross-border approach on this crucial issue- an issue which has already, or will in the future, impact upon the lives of so many families in the region." Críoch

Note to editors

Delegation included Carál Ní Chuilín MLA (Health Spokesperson, North Belfast), Barry Mc Elduff MLA (West Tyrone), Cllr Declan McAteer (Strabane), Raymond Mc Cartney MLA (Foyle), and Francie Brolly MLA (East Derry).

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