‘Stormont has ignored 50,000 Derry people’

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Independent Councillor Dee Quigley says he believes Stormont has “blatantly ignored” the 50,000 people in Derry who signed a petition calling for badly needed detox services in the area.

Councillor Quigley - who was elected on the back of his campaign for a detox centre for Derry following the death of his nephew Andrew - says the Health Minister, Jim Wells, needs to act now to prevent further lives being lost.

He says the Health Minister now needs to make it easier and make funds available for individuals here who require urgent detox treatment so that they can attend facilities at Whiteoaks in Donegal.

“There is already a model of practice for cross border cooperation on health. Southern residents will be able to access treatment at the new radiotherapy centre, why can’t our Health Minister come out and make it possible for people who badly need it to do the same when it comes to addiction services. I firmly believe that the insitutions in Stormont are attacking us by not allowing us to access these services.”

In a letter seen by the Derry Journal sent from the Department of Health to the Chief Executive of Derry and Strabane District Council, a Department representative reiterates that people who need it are able to use the inpatient detoxification centre at the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital.

The letter states: “We understand that HSBC officials have already stated their willingness to meet with their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland through CAWT and other mechanisms to discuss a number of areas where joing working on alcohol and drug misuse, including the provision of treatment services, could potentially improve outcomes and reduce harm. It must be stressed however that no specific commitments can be made at this stage.”

The letter also refers specifically to the petition which was handed in at Stormont last year. stating that the number of signatories “clearly demonstrated the depth of feeling on this important issues.”

However Colr. Quigley claims those who organised the petitions, including himself, have been “frozen out” of meetings at Stormont about the issue.

“It’s about time the institutions in Stormont started listening to us. Let’s make the Good Friday Agreement work for us instead of everything once you come off the M2 and across the Glenshane Pass being ignored. We won’t stop fighting for these services. The people of this city deserve it.”