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An 'Accessing Healthcare Services' Motion put forward at last night's monthly meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down Council was carried unanimously with all parties present supporting it. The motion was put forward by Councillor Róisín Howell and said "This Council believes that any member of the public accessing healthcare services is entitled to do so free of abuse, fear and intimidation and will write to both the Health Minister and the Justice Minister asking them to take steps to ensure this."

A Council motion was passed at last night's monthly meeting which said that any member of the public accessing healthcare services is entitled to do so free of abuse, fear and intimidation. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Commenting after the meeting Cllr Howell said “I am delighted that the Sinn Féin motion regarding the right to access health care without fear, abuse or intimidation brought to council tonight passed with ALL party support.”

Cllr Róisín Howell.

 "This sends an important message that Newry Mourne and Down Council agree that everyone has the right to safe access to health care. The council has also agreed to write to both the Justice and Health Ministers asking them to take appropriate action to implement safe, exclusion zones to enable people from across our district to access the healthcare they need."

Seconding the motion Cllr Oonagh Magennis said, “A diverse range of people access many services in Daisy Hill Hospital and other health care sites. 

"No one needing to attend compassionate healthcare services should feel threatened and intimidated by the presence of a group of protestors no matter what the issue. We have been contacted by many distressed people and we are absolutely disgusted with what they have told us about the disgraceful scenes they encountered."

Cllr Oonagh Magennis

Cllr Howell added "MLA Liz Kimmins has written to the Justice Minister Naomi Long and Health Minister Robert Swann requesting that they take appropriate action to stop this abusive behaviour and support safe exclusion zones to enable people to access the healthcare they need. To date, both Ministers have responded positively to the proposal put to them by the MLA, but this needs to be progressed as a matter of urgency. These protests continue on a weekly basis, and continue to cause significant distress and hurt to so many."

 Concluding Cllr Howell said, “No one knows what any of us have been through, or may be going through at any one time. There are better ways of making your voice heard and standing up for what you believe in without impacting those who have nothing to do with your cause in such a negative and harmful way.”

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