North West to come to standstill in cancer row

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Derry is expected to come to a standstill at lunchtime today in protest against the shelving of a radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital.

The Pink Ladies Breast Cancer Support Group, which is organising the ‘Day of Action’, is calling on everyone in the city and region to stop what they are doing for one minute at 1.05 p.m. to show the level of local opposition to Health Minister Michael McGimpsey’s decision to mothball plans for the construction of the satellite treatment centre.

A public protest will take place at the same time at Guildhall Square.

Karen Mullan, of the Pink Ladies, says she hopes the demonstration will underscore local opposition to Mr. McGimpsey’s controversial decision.

“We are asking people to gather at Guildhall Square to show the strength of the people of this region in campaigning against an injustice towards our citizens,” she said.

“At 1.05 p.m., we are asking people to observe a minute’s silence; if you can’t attend the Guildhall, please stop what you are doing at this time as a show of support.”

Ms. Mullan says a number of local women affected by cancer will speak at the event in Guildhall Square.

“This is just one event the Pink Ladies is organising to keep the cancer centre as the top priority for MLAs and Ministers going into the new government in May.

“At Guildhall Square, we will be asking people to sign a petition which we will then be taking to Stormont on the day the new Health Minister is announced. We will present this petition to the new Minister.

“We are asking the people of Derry and the North West region to stand up and be counted. Let’s show Michael McGimpsey and others in Belfast that we will not take this decision lying now and will not rest until this vital unit is built.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he could “guarantee” to reverse the move after the elections in May.