As the fall out continues from the ‘health monster’s’ decision to shelve plans for Derry’s radiotherapy centre one leading Inishowen cancer campaigner says a case for the unit in Letterkenny is now ‘unanswerable’.
Hundreds of protesters, many from Donegal, gathered in the city’s Guildhall Square on Saturday to rally against the decision to pull the plug on the much-needed centre for cancer patients both North and South of the border.
At the rally health minister Michael McGimpsey was dubbed a ‘health monster’ by angry protesters and now Betty Holmes from Donegal Action for Cancer Care (DACC) says the group won’t give up the fight to get the vital centre in Letterkenny until somebody gives them a medical reason for it not to be there.
Speaking to the Journal yesterday she said: “We have never been given a medical reason why it couldn’t be in Letterkenny.
“We have written to the HSE and been told that 19m euro was ring fenced from the Irish Government for the Northern Irish project.
“And the question really has to be asked is how in God’s name can people ring fence money for a business case that hasn’t even been published?”
Mrs Holmes, from Newtowncunningham, said she was not surprised at the decision by Mr McGimpsey to shelve the project because no business case was ever signed off on.
If a radiotherapy unit isn’t secured for Altnagelvin then it means cancer patients from the peninsula will have to continue to make the laborious eight hour round trip, some days daily and for periods of six weeks at a time, to Galway or Dublin for treatment.
Mrs Holmes said it’s now crucial the Irish government look in to establishing a centre at Letterkenny’s General Hospital.
She added: “Noone has ever given us a reason why the radiotherapy unit couldn’t be in Letterkenny. All that was quoted to us is ‘cross border and critical mass’ but we keep saying the road to Derry is the same as the one to Letterkenny.
“The reality is it hasn’t been looked at because it is about fighting a political agenda.
“We have always said Letterkenny is our first choice and until somebody sits down with us and says there are medical reasons why it can’t work here then we will continue to put the pressure one.”