March 30: Local chair of the Unite in the Community branch, Martin McKeown, welcomed the massive demonstration of support for the Stroke Department but urged all parties to join together to save the facility.
“Unite in the community commends the people of Newry, for turning out in such great numbers to the “Save Daisy hill stroke department rally”. We have sent the Southern Health & Social Care Trust, Health Minister Jim Wells and all the Stormont parties a crystal clear message: we want our stroke services to remain at Daisy hill hospital!
“It was heartening to see the trade union movement standing together on this issue, such unity will be necessary if we are to prevail. Sadly the same cannot be said of our politicians. Shamefully one political party used the occasion for political electioneering (even though the people of Newry stressed at the public meeting in Bellinis that they didn’t want tactless party politics). Such behaviour is a disservice to the wonderful staff at Daisy Hill and only serves to alienate a large section of our community.
“If someone has a stroke, the wonderful staff at Daisy Hill Stroke Department don’t concern themselves with their political background or religion – they do everything humanly possible to save their life or ease their suffering.
“Retention of our stroke department should not become a political football. If we are to have any chance of retaining our services we need the whole community to stand as one. Its high time for our political leaders to do what they were elected to do, that is serve the community and stop jostling to promote themselves at the front of public demonstrations”, Mr McKeown concluded.