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Sinn Féin meets with cross border health body

13 August, 2004

A Sinn Féin delegation has met with senior officials of the Co-operation And Working Together (CAWT) initiative, the cross-border health and social care organisation. The meeting was held at the CAWT Resource Centre in Derry. The Sinn Féin delegation was led by Cllr John O'Dowd MLA, the Party's health spokesperson, and also included Monaghan County Councillor, Brian McKenna, a member of the Party's All-Ireland Health grouping.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr O'Dowd said:

"The CAWT initiative is a model of good practice which effectively demonstrates the positive benefits of cross border working. The provision of a modern day health service on the island of Ireland mitigates against working in isolation to each other, or the creation or maintenance of artificial barriers between various health and care sectors. Clearly, the emphasis within CAWT is geared towards networking, co-operation and partnership rather than isolation and self-sufficiency. CAWT has already demonstrated that sharing resources and personnel can maximise the benefits for all patients within the CAWT cross border catchment area."

His colleague Cllr Brian McKenna added:

"Obviously, there are lessons to be learned from CAWT which we believe can be further extended to the rest of the island. Recently, CAWT secured over £7.5 million (11.5 million Euro) from the Special EU Programmes Body for a range of health and social care projects to which people in marginalised and peripheral areas on both sides of the border will have access. I believe that the Department of Health and Children in the south and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in the north need to strengthen and consolidate their links with CAWT. This should be done as a matter of urgency with a view to providing mainstream funding for this initiative so that the health and social well being of these communities, as well as the health infrastructure, in border counties can be further improved."

Cllr O'Dowd MLA echoed this latter point by saying, "Obviously, there are concerns as to how the recent health reforms in the south and the proposed Review of public administration in the north will impact upon CAWT in the long-term. However, those with whom we met are confident that CAWT is secure in the short to medium term."

Cllr McKenna concluded, "When we report back to the Party, it is most likely that we will be recommending that meetings are sought with the two health ministers, Mícheal Martin and Angela Smith, to discuss CAWT and also to examine ways of improving health provision on an all-Ireland basis." ENDS

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