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MLA News

  • 7:39 AM

    Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said she is "utterly shocked" after journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead by dissident republicans during violence in Derry-Londonderry.

    Police have said the 'New IRA' are likely behind the incident, which came during rioting in the Creggan area. The 29-year-old was shot at the scene and later died in hospital.

    "I am utterly shocked to hear this news and feel devastated for Lyra's partner, family, friends and loved ones," said Mrs Long.

    "They are going to have to live with this loss, their grief and pain for the rest of their lives, while those who carried it out will walk away without feeling, as they do not care they have ended a young woman's life while putting at risk many others.

    "They are enemies of the entire community, with nothing to offer but more pain and misery. While they may feel they have done some good to their cause, in reality they have no interest in the people of the city or their future, only in themselves. If they had, they would never bring a gun onto the streets of a residential area.

    "Many of us have lived through the cycle of violence in the past and nobody wants to see that return. It is now crucial everyone in the community pull together with police in order to bring the people responsible for this killing to justice, so we never again see a repeat of it."

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    9 AM Tuesday

    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said she is concerned about the lack of transparency around the reconfiguration of breast assessment and stroke services.

    The South Belfast MLA said the current consultation process into the service did not allow for clear scrutiny of the proposed changes.

    "Alliance has stated its clear and strong support for transformation of health and social care. Unlike others, we will not be populist on this issue in the quest for local votes - we entirely share Professor Bengoa's analysis we must move away from the focus on structures and the 'burning platform' analogy is accurate in determining inaction is not an option. If we value a health and social care service which is not dependent on people's ability to pay, we need transformation and we need it swiftly.

    "However, we are not clear the current consultation processes, particularly around breast assessment and stroke services, are proceeding with sufficient robustness and transparency. We are unclear about how decisions have been made, and it seems bizarre consultations were launched just as the civil service entered a period of self-determined 'purdah', unable to meet elected representatives to enable at least some democratic scrutiny of the decision-making process.

    "For example, it seems bizarre that a decision has been made to place the Breast Assessment Centre at the Ulster Hospital when so many related services and all the specialist expertise exist at the Belfast City Hospital site. With the Breast Reconstruction Centre, the Cancer Research and Cell Biology Centre and all the specialist surgeons at the City, why would Assessment suddenly move elsewhere? This runs plainly contrary to the Bengoa principles.

    "There is no evidence from minutes of meetings as to why adherence to the Bengoa principles) seems to have been suspended in this instance, yet we find ourselves unable to find clear answers by any other route.

    "It should be emphasised stroke reconfiguration is a strategic decision to deliver improved specialist services, but breast assessment seems driven primarily by staff and budget shortages. If this view is unfair, then that only demonstrates the need for proper transparency and scrutiny.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    10 AM Monday

    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said a response is needed on delayed discharges from hospital, which have seen over 200 people die in hospital rather than at home or in care over the past year.

    A report from Marie Curie showed delayed discharges meant patients were dying in care despite being declared ready to go home.

    The South Belfast MLA stated: "It is in absolutely nobody's interests for people wanting to return home to be left in hospital, and it distressing when people who were hoping to live their final days at home are forced to stay in hospital by a system which has not been transformed quickly enough.

    "Delayed discharges are likely only to become more common if health and social care services remain unreformed, as people are living longer with more complex needs.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    last Friday
    The refusal by the DUP and Sinn Féin to establish an Executive is responsible for prolonging the suffering of victims and survivors of institutional abuse, Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has said.

    The South Belfast MLA was speaking after the High Court ruled there was no legal failure by the Secretary of State to implement the recommendations of the Hart Inquiry into institutional abuse. Victims and survivors had wanted Karen Bradley to take action due to the ongoing political impasse.

    "I am utterly devastated for the victims and survivors of institutional abuse after today's court verdict," said Ms Bradshaw.

    "Implementation of this scheme and other recommendations should not have been delayed by years and should not have needed to end up in the legal system. Responsible parties would long ago have overcome their differences, not least for the sake of victims and survivors, whose suffering has now been prolonged again.

    "Listening to the interviews conducted by those victims and survivors after today's verdict would have drawn blood from a stone. I call on Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill to show compassion and do their part to help end the pain for victims and their loved ones.

  • Stephen Farry profile pic 1
    last Thursday

    Any extension of the Brexit deadline must be used for a "fundamental rethink" on the entire situation, leading to a People's Vote, Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said.

    EU leaders granted a six-month extension to Article 50 until October 31, meaning the UK does not have to leave without a deal this week. The UK must hold a European election in May or leave on June 1 without a deal.

    "An extension of the Brexit deadline is a better option that crashing out without a deal. Any no deal would be a complete disaster for the UK, and an absolute catastrophe for Northern Ireland," said Dr Farry.

    "But this additional time must be used for a fundamental rethink on what is happening with Brexit. We must always be mindful of what is best for people, the business community and civic society in Northern Ireland, and listen to their views, concerns and expertise.

    "The EU is rightly stressing the Withdrawal Agreement, and crucially the backstop, remains the bottom line and cannot be reopened. So the only alternatives are for the UK Parliament to work a softer version of Brexit, which would still have its own challenges and contradictions, or to finally hold a People's Vote to fundamentally reconsider Brexit.

    "The window of opportunity to hold a fresh referendum is narrow, but it is achievable and preparations need to begin shortly. Forthcoming European elections will be an opportunity for the electorate to further put pressure on a divided Government and Parliament to put this to the people.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    last Thursday

    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said a Parkinson's UK survey shows the need for much greater general awareness of the disease.

    The South Belfast MLA, speaking on World Parkinson's Day, said the survey showed Parkinson's was a widely misunderstood condition, with the impact on those living with it often underestimated.

  • Naomi Long
    last Wednesday

    Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said there is a need to recapture the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, on the 21st anniversary of the signing of the document.

    Mrs Long said while the structures of the Agreement needed reform for the current day, its values remained key to restoring the political institutions.

    "Since the collapse of talks last February, there have been no serious efforts to restore the Assembly from the UK Government of other parties. In fact, Alliance has been the only party to initiate any serious engagement during that time. As a result, the drift has simply been allowed to continue. It needs to end," she said.

    "Despite the current lack of a functioning Assembly and Executive, it is important to acknowledge the huge progress we have achieved since the Good Friday Agreement was signed. That transformation is too precious to squander.

    "The Agreement is not perfect and we need to find a way forward that reforms the institutions to make them fit for purpose. It needs to build on the spirit of co-operation and interdependence in which it was founded and maintain its core principles, which are as relevant now to resolving our differences as they were in 1998.

    "On the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, it is essential we recapture that sense of hope and ambition in which it was signed, and continue to build a shared and integrated future together."

  • Stewart Dickson profile pic 2
    last Tuesday
    Alliance Justice spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has said Northern Ireland should also see reforms to its divorce laws after changes to the legislation in England and Wales were promised.

    'No fault' divorce will be introduced in England and Wales as soon as parliamentary time allows, Justice Secretary David Gauke has stated, meaning an extension of the grounds for divorce, as well as abolishing the ability to contest a divorce.

    "Under current legislation, married couples in Northern Ireland can divorce after one year on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown, which has to include at least one reason such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour or a number of years of desertion or separation," said Mr Dickson.

    "However, surveys have shown over a quarter of divorcing couples who asserted blame in their divorce petition admitted the allegations were not true. So while a marriage is entered into voluntarily, it follows it should be dissolved voluntarily as well, without having to attribute blame to anyone if that is the case.

  • Stewart Dickson profile pic 1
    5 April
    Alliance Justice spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has said threats made by dissident republicans against vehicle recovery firms working with police need removed immediately.

    Two companies have been targeted by arsonists recently, damaging several vehicles. It is believed threats have also been issued by dissidents towards firms.

    "This is a delinquent and vicious activity against people who are simply doing their job. These companies work for the community and the benefit of people in it," said Mr Dickson.

    "These dissidents are doing nothing but attempting to deprive people of their livelihoods. There is no place for any paramilitarism in our society, no matter what organisation. It is concerning these actions could lead to an injury or fatality.

  • Paula Bradshaw20172
    4 April

    Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed the announcement of an urgent and emergency care summit scheduled for June.

    The South Belfast MLA stated: "The review of A&E, out-of-hours services and minor injuries units is central to the overall transformation agenda and will impact in one way or another on almost everyone in Northern Ireland.

    "Emergency Departments in particular are a pressure chamber for the rest of the health service and it is vital all perspectives are heard in reshaping the first point of contact with the system.

    "For that reason, the delegate invite list for the summit must be extremely extensive - from GPs through to people providing palliative care.

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