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Mary Lou McDonald urges Government to promote benefits of smoking ban in Six Counties

7 February, 2005


Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today urged Health Minister Mary Harney to seek a meeting with Direct Rule Minister Angela Smith to urge a ban on smoking in the workplace for the Six Counties.

Ms McDonald said that the "Irish Government has a duty to protect not only the rights" but also the health of citizens living in the Six Counties‚.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"I am calling upon Minister Harney to seek a meeting with Angela Smith to discuss the practicalities of extending a smoking ban to the Six Counties, thus ensuring an all-Ireland ban in the workplace. It is an opportune time for Minister Harney to promote the benefits of the recent legislation.

"As the ban nears its first anniversary in the 26 Counties (March 29th), Sinn Féin considers the ban a success. A recent survey in the south of the country found that 70% of people believed that the ban enhanced their pub experience. The positive response to the legislation should provide the catalyst for its extension in the Six Counties.

"The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (Six Counties) is currently carrying out a consultation process with regard to smoking. However the British Government‚s commitment to the consultation is questionable. To date there have only been 17 responses to the consultation process and many health professionals are unaware that it is happening.

"The Irish Government has a duty to protect not only the rights, but also the health of citizens living in the Six Counties. Minister Harney must provide a commitment that the health of citizens in the Six Counties is as important as for citizens in the rest of the country. Therefore I am calling upon Minister Harney to seek a meeting immediately with Angela Smith to discuss this serious matter." ENDS

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