Cancer centre public meeting

A public meeting will be held in Derry next week to call on the health minister to honour commitments to provide a new radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin hospital.

The meeting has been called following remarks from Mr McGimpsey that while money is in place to build the state-of-the-art facility but not to recruit staff.

It will be held in the Gasyard Centre and will be attended by Foyle Sinn Fin MLA Martina Anderson, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty, Inishowen councillor Padraig MacLochlainn, and local cancer support groups.

Ms Anderson said the remarks have sparked anger on both sides of the border. "This has caused a great deal of concern, particularly, for those who have been lobbying for the radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin for many years. Sinn Fin has sought assurances on a number of occasions over the past twelve months that this project would be going ahead. And the All-Ireland Ministerial Council agreed the timeline for this vital facility for the entire North-West in December 2009," she said.

The Foyle MLA said the meeting is an opportunity to send a message to the minister. "We have been inundated with complaints and concerns from the families of people who are being treated for cancer, local doctors, and cancer support groups and felt it was necessary to hold a public meeting as soon as possible. The purpose is to let the Minister know in no uncertain terms that the people of the North West demand and expect this facility to be delivered," she said.

Donegal TD Pease Doherty said; "This facility will make a dramatic impact on the lives of cancer sufferers as it will mean that the vast majority of patients could receive radiotherapy within one hour of their homes."