Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has finally broken his silence to angrily reject Sinn Fein claims that his decision to mothball a decision on Derry’s radiotherapy unit was “sectarian”.
Not only has the Ulster Unionist MLA stoutly defended his controversial decision but he has now branded remarks by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as “tantamount to incitement to hatred.”
He insisted Sinn Fein and the DUP were responsible for the health budget cuts, arguing that his department faced a 2% cut which would widen the gap between provision in the North and in Britain.
Mr. McGimpsey also claimed that Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, of the DUP, had failed to respond to a business case for Altnagelvin Hospital which he had given to him in October of last year.
The UUP man also refused to commit to visiting Derry City Council to discuss the proposed regional cancer treatment unit.
However, last night, Sinn Fein rejected Mr. McGimpsey’s claim that Martin McGuinness’ remarks were “tantamount to incitement to hatred.”
Foyle MLA Martina Anderson said: “Sinn Fein makes no apology for standing up for the rights of patients in Derry, Donegal and elsewhere directly affected by the Health Minister’s tenure in his department.
“Given the fact that his own party colleagues will not even stand over Mr. McGimpsey’s actions, we can presume that he will not be around the Executive table post-election.”
Mr. McGimpsey’s decision means that people right across the North West - including Co. Donegal - have to continue making the 160 mile round-trip to the cancer centre in Belfast for treatment.
Just days after his announcement, both Martin McGuinness and First Minister Peter Robinson gave their commitment to the new radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin.
The Irish Republic’s Health Minister also confirmed that his government remains committed to the new unit in Derry.