Eastwood: Executive must start using its full powers to mitigate crisis

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has called on Ministers in the Executive to work together and use their full powers to mitigate the coronavirus crisis.
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The Foyle MP said that an urgent plan is needed for procuring testing kits, PPE and ventilators, setting out the sites that will be used as testing hubs at scale.

He also called for urgent plans for signalling to healthcare workers where the critical clinical sites will be and who will be staffing them and presenting a united front against this virus.

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Colum Eastwood MP said: “Political leaders across Northern Ireland are united in their determination to do whatever they can to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. In all my conversations over the last few weeks, I have never doubted their sincerity or their resolve to do what has to be done to protect people.

Colum EastwoodColum Eastwood
Colum Eastwood

“I am deeply worried, however, that the scale of what needs to be done has not yet been grasped by all Ministers and that time spent disagreeing on the approach to this crisis is time wasted when we need to be working in lock step to beat it.

“We have the power and the expertise to procure testing kits, PPE and ventilators. We can set out the sites that will be used as testing hubs over the coming weeks and we can put plans in place for central clinical sites with key healthcare workers designated to staff them now. These are the detailed plans that we need to see coming from our Executive, not news cycle after news cycle of tension and blame.”

Mr Eastwood said no-one at the Executive table was powerless.

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“Everyone is responsible for what happens, or does not happen next,” he said.

“The SDLP is doing everything we can to enhance preparations and Minister Mallon has offered assistance for testing and support for the Department of Health. We won’t be found wanting. We need to hear the detailed plans, we need to know what happens next, when it happens and how we’re planning to manage this crisis.”

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