Postponement Of Cancer Unit 'Sectarian'

The decision to postpone the construction of a radiotherapy unit in Londonderry has been blasted as 'sectarian' by Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister.

Martin McGuinness said the delay, announced by the Health Minister, was "shameful, highly political and sectarian".

He added he could "guarantee" to reverse it after the elections in May.

The Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey, said funding was insufficient.

Mr McGuinness commented: "This is not about money. This is the best possible project you could tackle by dint of the fact that we have a very high level agreement between our Executive and the previous Irish government, which, I believe, will be maintained. I would urge people not to panic. If you can be sure about anything in life you can be sure that this radiotherapy centre will be built. I will ensure and guarantee that it is built."

The DUP chair of the Health Committee, Jim Wells, said there was no case to postpone the construction of the radiotherapy unit and that his party would reverse the move if they took the health portfolio.

Mr Wells commented: "The Altnagelvin radiotherapy unit was treated specially and differently from any other project. The finance minister allocated the £27m and ring-fenced it to health. The Fine Gael-Labour government is committed to giving the money to Altnagelvin. In addition the Irish government have planned to fund a third of the revenue because there will be patients coming from Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim to the new unit. That means that the capital cost is effectively free to the department and a substantial part of the revenue is free."

He also said he was committed to reversing the decision.

"In a hypothetical situation where a male or female member of the DUP got the health portfolio, yes, this decision would be reversed."

Since the postponement was announced it has caused major controversy.

It even prompted the resignation of one senior politician.

See: Resignation Over Postponement Of Cancer Unit


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