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Adams welcomes confirmation of plans for Suicide Taskforce

25 July, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, MP for West Belfast has welcomed the confirmation from the Department for Health that the Minister Shaun Woodward has given approval for the development of a Regional Strategy for the Prevention of Suicide in the north of Ireland. The confirmation came in correspondence from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Henrietta Campbell to Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Kathy Stanton.

Mr Adams said:

"We have now received confirmation that the Minister for Health has approved the creation of a Taskforce on suicide. The main responsibility of this Taskforce is to oversee the development of a Regional Strategy for the Prevention of Suicide in the north of Ireland. This group is due to report in the autumn and a costed regional action plan is scheduled to be produced by the end of November. Whilst I wish to see this work done speedily, it must also be done sufficiently and not superficially."

The Sinn Féin President said that this presented a huge opportunity to re-orientate the approach of Health Departments in Belfast and Dublin:

"The approval given to develop a regional strategy for the prevention of suicide in the six counties has been long awaited.

"It wasn't so long ago that families bereaved through suicide were being told that a strategy already existed or that a strategy wasn‚t needed.

"It is vital now that the opportunity for the creation of an all-Ireland approach to suicide prevention is not lost. That is why I am writing to the Minister for Health to raise further concerns about the way forward. I am still awaiting the meeting I requested with his counterpart the Tanaiste and Minister for Health, Mary Harney in Dublin, to discuss suicide prevention.

"The development of a strategic response to suicide prevention across the north must be part of an integrated strategy for preventing suicide and self-harm throughout Ireland. I hope that the Minister for Health in Belfast and his counterpart in Dublin will agree to do just that." ENDS

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