Sinn Féin - On Your Side

John Reid 'unfit' to be Health Minster

9 June, 2004

Sinn Fein Health spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has reacted furiously to comments from the British Health Minister John Reid about smoking in the workplace.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"These comments are a total disgrace. Mr Reid is clearly unfit to continue in his post as Health Minister. I only hope that political pressure will force local British NIO Ministers to adopt a more positive response to the right to work in a smoke-free environment.

"John Reid may think that smoking is good for working class people - the facts show otherwise. Working class people are far more likely to die from smoking related diseases than middle class people. That a 'Labour' health minister can fail to recognise this scourge and try to do something about it is astounding

"This issue is about protecting the rights of workers, particularly the low paid. Mr Reid is trying to mislead people and the suspicion is that he is acting in the interests of cigarette manufacturers, who can see the dramatic impact in reducing the level of smoking that the introduction of a workplace smoke ban is having in places like the south of Ireland.

"The extension of the smoking ban into the Six Counties would undoubtedly be as successful as it has been in the south and I urge the local British NIO Health Minster to ignore John Reid's position and introduce the workplace ban without delay.

"Poverty is not something that John Reid should rejoice in. It is a sad indictment on the policies of John Reid's government that poverty remains such a pressing issue, particularly here in the Six Counties. " ENDS

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