“What I can’t do is give a cast-iron guarantee…”

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The new Northern Ireland Health Minister, the DUP’s Edwin Poots, has re-introduced doubt about the proposed radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin when, during the election campaign, the NI First and deputy First Ministers’ had promised certainty.

From the BBC report

Mr Poots said he hoped to make a decision in the next few weeks.

“It’s top of my in-tray. What I can’t do is give a cast-iron guarantee without having seen all the documentation and papers around this issue,” said Mr Poots.

“Ultimately, what I will seek to do is to ensure there is adequate funding available to do this which doesn’t compromise other elements of the health service. If that is possible I will be very keen to ensure that this goes ahead.”

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  • http://www.thedissenter.co.uk thedissenter

    But at Slugger’s UTV tweetup in the city Martina Anderson said the unit was a dead cert for the necessary money. No way would she have said that it wasn’t 100% absolutely going to happen.

  • Stephen Blacker

    This is what Peter Robinson had to say when he cut the tripe out of the then Health Minister. Robinson and Sammy Wilson made it more than plain that there was money enough to go ahead with this project so why does Poots need to “look into it”?? Sure the UUP Minister was called sectarian by the Deputy First Minister, it stinks of political clap trap just before the vote on the 5th of May.

    If this does not go ahead it will be a disgrace.

  • Barry the Blender

    I’m astounded. What an absolute surprise. I thought the Department of Health was coming down with money that Michael McGimpsey was hiding in off shore bank accounts, so that it wouldn’t get near Altnagelvin and he could satisfy his in built sectarian prejudices.

  • Cynic2

    Oh do grow up children.

    If Derry goes ahead something else doesn’t. So Poots has to be careful in what he says or those disadvantaged by delivering Derry will Judicially Review him on the grounds of bias, unfairness, not giving proper consideration and wherever other grounds their poor bankrupt inventive lawyers can think up to screw a last few pounds from Legal Aid and pay the kids school fees / their golf club subs.

  • foyle observer

    Poot’s statement doesn’t say it isn’t going ahead.

    I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt here. Until the funding is secured, it is only wise of him to be cautious in his approach.

    Just hope he doesn’t decide that an incinerator would be better placed in Altnagelvin than the radiotherapy unit.

  • Neil

    He appears to be ruling nothing in or out. Very sensible approach. Why set himself up for a fall by committing to anything? Give him a chance to warm his seat up. Of one thing I’m confident, he’ll be no worse than Michael ‘we’re bankrupt we’re bankrupt we’re all gonna DIE!!!’ McGimpsey.

  • Stephen Blacker

    Cynic2,

    Why should something else not go ahead? Michael McGimpsey was called sectarian because of his announcement about Altnagelvin and others said there was plenty of money. With McGimpsey being sectarian I was surprised at his welcome of a new hospital for Omagh, not really a hot-bed for Prods.

  • Barry the Blender

    He appears to be ruling nothing in or out. Very sensible approach. Why set himself up for a fall by committing to anything?

    The flip side of that argument therefore is that Peter Robinson and Martin McGuiness have potentially set themselves up for a fall by committing to the unit.

  • Stephen Blacker

    Quote from Peter Robinson, “We are going to proceed with the Altnagelvin extension for cancer care and that’s the end of the matter,” – No more for Poots to think about, they labeled McGimpsey as an arse, they knew everything -WHY WAIT!

  • Cynic2

    Stephen

    There is no more money. Keep repeating that to yourself.

    And the Irish promise may be a chimera

  • Cynic2

    Stephen

    Your apparent hysteria is a trifle unedifying

  • Stephen Blacker

    Cynic2,

    Most people said McGimpsey was wrong and labeled him sectarian, they said the money was there not me. They knew the budget, or they at least said they did with Sammy Wilson backing them up!

  • Stephen Blacker

    Cynic2,

    Explain what I have said that is wrong?

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail madraj55

    Poots didn’t have to speak about this at all. He’s playing with words. In the end, what the FM/DFM wants to be done, will be done. .

  • Fair Deal

    Processes have to be followed boys and girls else any decision could be JR’d.

  • unionistvoter

    Poots can’t take a decision because the business case hasn’t returned from DFP. The other issue is that while the capital funding is available the extra £2 million needed to train the staff for the unit has to come out of the revenue budget from the Western Trust which means less residential places, less respite, less home helps etc. The unit also has to be guaranteed patients from the ROI not just a guarantee to pay for those that attend.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “Of one thing I’m confident, he’ll be no worse than Michael”
    I will quote you on that Neil !

    “Processes have to be followed boys and girls”
    Indeed all the dots and strokes in place, and if they aren’t in place now obvious they wern’t in place a few months ago.

  • iluvni

    couldnt he build it at the Maze site?

  • The Raven

    Not being fully au fait with this, can I see if I got the gist:

    This unit was going ahead.
    Papers were signed or a meeting was held to give it the go-ahead
    Two or three hours later, something happened which made (or allowed) the former Minister to say it couldn’t or wouldn’t go ahead

    Is that correct? And if so, what happened in that 2-3 hour time period? What has emerged, in that time, which gave the former Minister enough clout to say that it had to be shelved? And is this a permanent shelving, or is it just being bumped for a while?

    And is there an analysis of the actual situation which doesn’t wander into “McGimpsey is sectarian” territory? Has anyone FOI’d this yet?

    And finally: is this the sort of thread that the 46% of non-voters and the X% of vote spoilers point at, and say: “see? this is why we didn’t vote for any of the above…”

    I have several friends in local government. If anyone – for a single second – thinks that Poots is “better”, smarter, or more suited to this ministerial role than his predecessor, then you’re really in for a shock. He’s there because he’s happy to be the party fall-guy, and he’ll be politically richly rewarded as such.

  • Fair Deal

    Unionistvoter

    “Poots can’t take a decision because the business case hasn’t returned from DFP”

    …because DoH didn’t answer two questions. The answers to which would have blown holes in McGimpsey’s later public ‘rationale’ for his decision not to proceed eg the issue of RoI funds.

    Regrettably for the UUP it allowed McGimpsey to lead it by the nose into a cul-de-sac on this one. However, it appears the approach is to persist with the failed strategy rather than learn a lesson.

    Drumlin Rocks

    “Indeed all the dots and strokes in place, and if they aren’t in place now obvious they wern’t in place a few months ago.”

    As The Raven points out the FoIs showed the dots etc were in place until the then minister McGimpsey decided otherwise.

  • Framer

    No minister of health wants not to open new centres but In McGimpsey’s case it was a shortfall in recurrent money that was the issue. Capital money was in the bag but the perpetual running costs were another matter.

    Of course he should have behaved like a DUP minister and just left the decision in the pending tray without a word.

    You get a direct and honest approach from the UUP not that the media understand that.

  • RyanAdams

    @Raven

    I have several friends in local government. If anyone – for a single second – thinks that Poots is “better”, smarter, or more suited to this ministerial role than his predecessor, then you’re really in for a shock. He’s there because he’s happy to be the party fall-guy, and he’ll be politically richly rewarded as such.

    Tell me about, I vote in Lagan Valley and have friendships with many DUP supporters here, and they still vote for that man no matter what he does. He gave a go ahead for an incinerator outside Glenavy, just outside of his constituency now that boundary changes have taken effect. He squandered the review of public administration as far as councils went. And yet, after all that he was returned with something like 7,000 votes.

    How someone in my opinion can be so incompetent and yet see their personal vote more than double is beyond me.

  • unionistvoter

    Fair Deal

    Perhaps someone should FOI the perm secs letter of the 24th March re future funding being made available with the clear implication that this was dependant on a new Minister

  • unionistvoter

    As for the ROI funds perhaps someone should ask if the ROI has maintained the number of patients attending the Belfast centre

  • keepcalmanddrinkmorewine

    I don’t work in Health but my first thoughts are that having campaigned on a ticket which said ‘we will make it happen’ Poots’ remarks are somewhat disappointing. Frankly it is a disgrace that there isn’t a cancer facility in the North West and having undertaken to sort it out those who said they could do really should. Peoples’ lives are being played with. Ultimately if you can’t put up – you should shut up.

  • http://sluggerotoole.com Belfast Gonzo

    While Poots words sound weasely, he probably has good reasons.

    But if the centre doesn’t go ahead at the end of all the processes, it will be open season on him – and Poots doesn’t exactly have a great track record on seeing big projects through to a successful conclusion…