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Adams lashes Harney on miserly funding for Suicide Prevention

30 January, 2007

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has described the Minister for Health Mary Harney's approach to tackling the growing and serious issue of suicide as "disgraceful and indefensible."

His criticism comes after it emerged that the Minister of health is responsible for the provision of a miserly €1.85million a year for suicide prevention.

Mr. Adams said, "Ireland has the second highest incidence of suicide in Europe. That is a startling and depressing statistic which disguises the human cost in lives lost and of families bereaved and left grieving.

"It is the biggest killer of young people in our country. Families the length and breadth of Ireland know only too well the devastating impact of suicide. Suicide affects both rural and urban communities. Whether in North West Kerry, Wexford, North or West Belfast or Derry families are devastated by the pain of loved ones taking their own lives.

"There were 577 reported deaths by suicide across this island in the year 2003 to 2004. In 2005 431 people died in the south. The death toll from suicide is greater than the number of people killed in traffic accidents in the same period.

"Ms Harney's response to this growing tragedy has been to minimise the funding available from the state while promoting private investment and voluntary input. However, welcome this is it cannot compensate for the state taking the lead and providing the funding resources necessary of a state wide counselling service.

"Because this is an all-Ireland problem, requiring an all-Ireland strategic approach, I have been seeking a meeting with Ms Harney for almost two years. She has refused. This is unacceptable.

"The fact is that with so many of our people, especially our young people dying from suicide and thousands more victim of self-harm, this is too serious an issue to allow personal likes or dislikes to stand in the way of ensuring the development of an all-Ireland approach to suicide prevention. I will continue to press for a meeting with Ms. Harney." ENDS

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