[Sinn Fein]

7th March 2002

Annie Courtney exposes political agenda

Sinn Fein Health Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Sue Ramsey has said that Annie Courtney's call on Bairbre de Brun to resign as Minister for Health exposes her opportunist political agenda.

Ms Ramsey said:

``Annie Courtney has been absent from the Health Committee for a number of weeks due to ill health, but this is no excuse for her ill-informed and ill-advised comments.

``She has failed to listen to the arguments supported by everyone else working in the health service and even her party colleague the chairperson of the Health Committee Joe Hendron that the level of funding is tying the hands on the department.

``David Trimble and SDLP colleague Mark Durkan as First and Deputy First Minister and the Finance Minister Sean Farren, also of the SDLP, have refused to meet the Health Committee to hear our concerns about the impact of years of underfunding on our health service.

``Annie Courtney's call on the Health Minister to resign exposes her opportunistic political agenda. Annie has clearly lost the plot when every one connected with health including Andrew Dougal from the Chest, Heart and Stroke Foundation have recognised that while waiting lists are a serious problem that under funding is the key issue that needs to be addressed.

``This week I again told the Executive that if it is going to talk about prioritising health then they must put their money where their mouth is - the Executive of course includes four of Annie Courtney's party colleagues.'' ENDS

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