Councillors act to help try to save Northlands

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill. (Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.)
Health Minister Michelle O'Neill. (Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.)

Derry & Strabane Councillors are to send a deputation to meet with new Health Minister Michelle O’Neill amid concerns over the funding crisis facing Derry’s Northlands Centre.

Sinn Fein Councillor Elisha McCallion’s proposal on the matter was backed unanimously at a special meeting of the Council on Tuesday.

During the meeting, Councillors were told by representatives from Northlands that the facility is in danger of being shut down by next Spring due to Department of Health funding being phased out.

Colr. McCallion said: “As somebody who has first hand experience of people going through Northlands I can absolutely concur the people in Northlands are walking angels. The sterling work that Northlands have been doing for many a decade hasn’t gone unnoticed and Northlands is part of the social fabric of the people of this city and beyond.”

Colr. McCallion said newly installed Health Minister has already met with Northlands staff and was already investigating the matter.

Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly questioned why, given the vital work Northlands was doing, their funding was being chopped.

SDLP Colr. Martin Reilly also praised the work of Northlands and suggested the deputation should also include representatives from neighbouring councils whose citizens also use Northlands service.

DUP Colr. Drew Thompson also pledged his party’s support for Northlands and the motion proposed.

UUP Councillor Derek Hussey said that in the great scheme of things, the amount of funding needed to save Northlands was “very small”.

“With regards value for money, this is a service that can provide exactly that- value for money not just for the city but for the entire population of Northern Ireland.”

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly addiction affected a lot of families in this district and beyond.

“It knows no bounds in terms of religion, creed or class,” he said, adding that personal testimonies relayed at a previous meeting by those who have come through treatment at Northlands revealed that some felt they wouldn’t be alive today but for the service, while others were able to stop their families from splitting apart, and children prevented from being put into care as a result of addiction issues in the family.