Shock across North West

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Politicians have launched a blistering attack on the pigeon-holing of plans for Altnagelvin’s radiotherapy unit.

The angry backlash from both unionists and nationalists has continued unabated in the aftermath of Wednesday’s announcement by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey. There was also stinging criticism of the minister’s move from south of the border where a financial commitment to the project has once again been reaffirmed.

Sinn Fein MLA, Martina Anderson, claimed the move demonstrated once again that Mr McGimpsey “is the most incompetent Minister in the Executive”.

She also called on the electorate of South Belfast to ensure he is not re-elected. “Do the rest of us a favour by sending a message to Michael McGimpsey that wherever a minister plays politics with people’s lives there is a price to pay,” she said.

SDLP Foyle MLA, Pat Ramsey said the “slap in the face for the North West” was totally unacceptable.

“I am absolutely appalled at the Minister’s statement today in the Assembly, we were assured previously that the issue of resource monies at the radiotherapy centre was the stumbling block, now we are told there is no capital money to build the centre. The obvious benefits for the region in the building of the centre is clear - over 1000 people would have been able to avail of its services, rather than travelling to Belfast, where services are already under pressure.”

SDLP Stormont Health Committee member, Pól Callaghan, said the move was “devastating” for the people of Derry and entire North West. “The minister’s decision will put lives at risk as well as causing tremendous upset and worry to patients and their families.”

Donegal North East Sinn Féin TD, Padraig MacLochlainn, called on the South’s Health Minister James Reilly to urge Mr McGimpsey to reverse the decision. “The failure of the Government to provide any radiation oncology services north of a line from Dublin to Galway means that cancer services in Altnagelvin will be crucial to people in Donegal and across the North West.”