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Pádraig MacLochlainn - North West should be treated as one region for delivering health services

18 February, 2006

Cllr Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Fullerton, Mac Lochlainn, O Hagan cumann, Buncrana, Co. Donegal urging delegates to support motions 187 and 478

In 2001, this 26 county Government, in their Health Strategy document "Quality and Fairness" promised all of us a world-class health service.

Almost five years on, I challenge anyone to walk through the corridors of hospital A&E wards across this state with our elderly and sick on trolleys and tell me that we have a world class health system.

In my county, people have had enough of the excuses. A grass roots campaign called Donegal Action for Cancer Care has captured the public mood. This campaign was sparked by a number of strong empowered women who decided they would no longer watch their loved ones be treated like second-class citizens. They are an inspiration to communities across the state. I would like to express my party's full solidarity and support for their demands for equality of access and cancer care treatment.

The very personal heartbreaking stories revealed by Donegal Action for Cancer Care make for sad reading. The elderly man who stopped travelling to Dublin for chemotherapy treatment rather than face the traumatic trip by bus for fear of being sick. That man subsequently died at home.

The two women, one, a lone parent and one, the mother of disabled children who opted for a mastectomy rather than place a heavy burden on their families. It is surely inhumane in the year 2006 to ask sick people to travel hundreds of miles to Dublin coupled with the additional hardship placed on families to find accommodation and the sense of isolation felt by all of them.

If the North West cross-border region were to be treated as one region for the purposes of delivering health services, then all of this obscenity would end.

Sinn Féin have consistently argued that it is folly to have two separate health systems on a small island and we have demonstrated that there is a need to harmonise provision and delivery of health services across the whole of the island of Ireland.

In that light, we welcome this Government's recent late conversion to this analysis but reject their hotch potch solution to send cancer patients from Donegal and the North West region over to Belfast. Delegates, I urge you to support Motions 187 and 478 and ensure that on the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, this Government will honour the calling of the proclamation and finally cherish all the children of the nation equally.

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