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Harney leaving British to deliver all-Ireland suicide awareness campaign - Spain

30 January, 2007

Sinn Féin's Dublin Mid-West candidate Joanne Spain said today that a British Minister was doing more to advance an all-Ireland suicide awareness campaign than Minister Harney. She was speaking after the Minister announced she would 'consider' such a campaign to tackle the increasingly urgent suicide crisis in Ireland. Ms Spain pointed out that Sinn Féin has been seeking a meeting to push such an initiative forward for almost two years.

Ms Spain said: "Minister Harney's statement yesterday that she was willing to consider an all-Ireland awareness campaign to tackle the growing problem of suicide is to be welcomed, but the reality is that the Minister is behind the curve on this one.

"At the start of the month our party President Gerry Adams MP MLA met British Health Minister Paul Goggins to review progress on the suicide prevention strategy in the Six Counties. In response to our lobbies, Minister Goggins agreed to take a proposal for an all-Ireland suicide awareness campaign forward and we are seeking a meeting with the Irish Government to discuss this.

"We expect to be waiting some time.

"Gerry Adams first wrote to Mary Harney in May 2005 seeking a meeting to discuss an all-Ireland co-ordinated approach to this problem. In the intervening months more letters were sent to the Minister and over a dozen calls were made to her departmental office. No progress was made on securing a meeting.

"The reality is that a British Direct Rule Minister is doing more to further an all-Ireland campaign on suicide prevention that the Irish Minister for Health. With over 500 people taking their lives every year in this state alone, the need for departments north and south to work together, to co-ordinate their approaches, is all the more urgent.

"I genuinely welcome indications Minister Harney is willing to engage on this issue, despite her repeated attacks on Sinn Féin when we have proposed this initiative in the past, but we need to move past 'consideration' and start putting together a strategy to address the suicide crisis."


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