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Sinn Fein Critical of Government Delay on Sexual Abuse Report

6 May, 2004

Sinn Féin's health spokesperson, John O'Dowd has criticised a government decision to postpone publication, until June 2005 at the earliest, of a consultation document regarding proposals for services for the survivors of sexual abuse.

The Upper Bann MLA said:

"There can be no valid reason for such a lengthy delay in progressing this issue. Des Browne, the former direct-rule Minister for Health, had already brought forward a number of proposals in relation to the commissioning of this report to establish the full extent of sexual abuse in the Six Counties several months ago.

"Yet following a meeting which I and another Party colleague had with senior Department of Health officials today (Thursday), it appears that we are no closer to having any effectively audited actions taken in order to determine the real extent of the long-term problems caused by sexual abuse, or to identify ways and means of providing properly resourced services for the survivors of such abuse.

"This delay will do nothing to alleviate the ever growing waiting list of survivors of such abuse who wish to access proper counselling", said Mr O'Dowd, "I am sure that survivors of abuse, their relatives, and those in support groups such as Nexus, will be extremely disappointed and frustrated, if not angry, at this unnecessary delay. I will be seeking to meet with the current direct-rule Minister of Health, Angela Smith, to impress upon her the need for immediate and positive action on this matter." ENDS

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