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John O’Dowd seeks Speakers intervention on lack of answers from Health Minister

2 March, 2009 - by John O'Dowd

Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has written to the Speaker of the Assembly Mr Willie Hay asking him to intervene and ask the Minister for Health Mr Michael Mc Gimpsey to answer a written question which is now outstanding for 4 months.

Mr O' Dowd's call comes after repeatedly asking the Health Minister, Mr Michael Mc Gimpsey as to why the DHSSPS was currently disregarding the Good Friday Agreement as well as the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and not issuing Medical cards with the correct Irish spelling of children's names, including fadas, as they appear on their Birth certificates. The failure of the Central services agency to do so mean all medical records and documents are then recorded with the incorrect spelling of Irish names.

Mr O Dowd said
"I first raised this matter with the Minister on the 17/9/O8 and I submitted a second question on the 24th of October seeking clarification as to what action the Minister of Health is taking to rectify this situation. The Minister informed me he was unable to provide an answer at this time and will provide one a later date.

"I again sought an answer through Assembly procedures on the 15th December only to be told on the 22nd of December that an answer would be available when the information requested was available.

"This simply is not good enough. The current situation actively discriminates against those people who wish to use the correct spelling of their child's name in all aspects of their child's life as other parents have the right to do so.

"The Good Friday Agreement as well as the European Charter secures these basic entitlements for those EU citizens using their native languages.

Concluding Mr O' Dowd said;

"I now have asked the Speaker to intervene to protect the right of MLAs not only to question Ministers but also to receive answers to questions.

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