Political parties unite over ‘Cottages’

The Cottages Respite Care, Dungiven Road, Derry. DER4914MC059
The Cottages Respite Care, Dungiven Road, Derry. DER4914MC059

Political representatives of those families who avail of the Cottages respite care facilities in Derry, have reacted with dismay and anger at their exclusion by Health Trust representatives from a recent meeting.

The joint party representatives, having been requested by the families to attend on their behalf, described the attitude of the Trust at the meeting as, at best, “incredibly poor”.

SDLP and Sinn Fein politicians issued a joint statement on the Cottages.

“It beggars belief that Trust employees find it acceptable to refuse to discuss matters of concern to constituents with elected representatives,” read the statement.

“We the undersigned attended the meeting at the specific request of the families affected by the proposals and to represent the views of families which, to date, would seem to have been ignored by the Trust.

“Since the controversy around the proposals for the Cottages began, words such as bullying, intimidation, cajoling and railroading have regularly been used by parents to describe their treatment at the hands of Health Trust representatives.

“If the attitude of Trust officials recently is an example of how families are treated then we are not surprised at these descriptions.”

The statement continued: “If the Health Trust believes they can dictate who the affected families choose to represent them then it displays a level of unacceptable arrogance.

“Those families affected by the question marks hanging over the Cottages facility have been living under this intolerable strain for some six months already.

“They requested political representation due to the questionable nature in which Trust officials have conducted business to date.

“By their own admission, the Trust has been poor at communicating with the affected families. The decision to exclude political representatives of the families from the meeting demonstrates the total lack of transparency and unaccountability forming the opinion by the families that a decision has already been reached in regard to the future of The Cottages.

“It is our considered opinion that given the refusal to allow the families case to be put by their elected representatives that we have no other recourse – in the interests of the children – but to request that the incoming Minister for Health meet directly with the affected families in order that he can hear their concerns and find a satisfactory resolution to this issue. An issue which has been hanging over the affected families for much, much too long.”

The statement was signed by Pat Ramsey MLA, Mark H. Durkan MLA, Maeve McLaughlin MLA and Colr Chris Jackson.