‘Families must to be asked for views’

Suicide prevention expert, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, is due to address councillors on the need to remove suicide-related memorabilia from the bridges.

Sunday, 27th January 2019, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:50 pm
Headquarters of Derry City & Strabane District Council on the Strand Road.

Councillors, however, were insistent at a meeting of the DC&SDC’s Health & Community Committee that a consultation on the removal of ‘messages of hope’ goes ahead regardless of Prof. O’Neill’s, a Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Magee, proposed presentation.

Last month DC&SDC voted to consult families bereaved by suicide before any messages were taken down. At this month’s meeting Ind. Colr. Warren Robsinon requested an update on the process. Mr. Seamus Donaghy, Council Head of Health & Well-Being, advised that since December a proposal for Prof. O’Neill to come in to present had come forward.

Upon hearing this councillors insisted the public consultation go ahead.

DUP Ald. Drew Thompson said: “This must happen before anything is removed from the bridge. It’s important that that takes places.

SDLP Colr. Brian Tierney said: “I understand what you are saying about experts but I think the 12 week consultation has to happen whether they come in or not.”

UUP Ald. Derek Hussey said: “The whole kernel is engagement with the families. To talk about some Professor from UU coming in to talk to us is pointless.”

Sinn Féin Colr. Sandra Duffy said: “We don’t have the expertise but we do need to be guided by experts on how you frame the public consultation so you don’t further traumatise families.

Ind. Colr. Darren O’Reilly said: “It’s the families who came to us who are being traumatised. They don’t have a relationship with the statutory authorities. We are a conduit for those families.”

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