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Early response to demand for all-Ireland progress on suicide prevention

2 April, 2007

Newly appoint Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín, speaking ahead of a meeting with Tim O Malley, the junior minister in the 26 County Department of Health, tomorrow in Dublin has accused the both the Irish and British government of failing deliver the all-Ireland response to suicide.

The Sinn Féin delegation will include Carál Ní Chuilín MLA, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Jennifer McCann MLA, Dublin Mid West general election candidate Joanne Spain and Stiofan Long.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Hawkins House 12 noon on Tuesday, April 3rd, Ms Carál Ní Chuilín said:

"There are explicit commitments from both the British and Irish governments that the implementation of 6 county Suicide Prevention Strategy 'Protect Life A Shared Vision' should be the implemented in conjunction with the 26 County strategy.

"Fundamental to progress in the 6 counties was the effective family and community campaign that originated in West and North Belfast that succeeded in getting the strategy put in place and bringing about meaningful change on the ground and crucially, in shaping service delivery.

"However, there are still very serious concerns about the provision of services for children and young people. It is totally frustrating that young people are being separated from their families and sent to England because the support they need is not available in Ireland.

"There is a clear need for a Children and Adolescent Mental Health Unit/Service on an all Ireland basis instead of children from both jurisdictions being sent to England for specialist treatment of mental health problems."

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin added:

"The Irish government has failed, and failed miserably to live up to its responsibility to bring the required urgency to the very serious problem of suicide. There has been a lack of clarity, from both the Irish and British governments, on how they are taking forward commitments to the all-Ireland response that this crisis demands.

"Suicide is one of the biggest killers of our young people and co-ordinated action is required urgently.

"The strategy in the 26 counties, Reach Out, and the work of the department is welcome but the reality is that its impact has yet to be fully felt on the ground by the most vulnerable in our society.

"Crucially we now need to see resources committed to expanding service provision across the mental health field to support awareness campaigns, particularly in services for young people.

"The success of the families' forum in the north cannot be underestimated. We would now like this approach to be adopted across the island of Ireland." ENDS

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