Lord Empey: Sinn Fein is playing Russian Roulette with people’s health by refusing to let it come under control of a minister

Sinn Fein agreed to social security powers being brought back from Stormont to Westminster on welfare reform. Lord Empey says: "They were happy for that to happen as it meant they didn't have to take any difficult decision. Now they say 'it's just not on' for health powers to be exercised by a direct rule minister"
Sinn Fein agreed to social security powers being brought back from Stormont to Westminster on welfare reform. Lord Empey says: "They were happy for that to happen as it meant they didn't have to take any difficult decision. Now they say 'it's just not on' for health powers to be exercised by a direct rule minister"
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Sinn Fein has said that ‘it’s just not on’ for health powers to be exercised by a direct rule minister.

This arrogant statement from republicans comes after evidence submitted to the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee in Westminster indicating the dire circumstances in which our health service finds itself.

Lord Empey is a former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

Lord Empey is a former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

It also follows the introduction of my Private Members Bill two weeks ago which seeks to return health powers to London pending the re-establishment of an executive at Stormont.

Sinn Fein has no right to play Russian Roulette with people’s health.

It’s too serious. When the civil servant who is in charge of things at present warns us of the oncoming crisis, it is right that we listen and pay attention.

Sinn Fein couldn’t care less about the health of the people — they only care about themselves.

Only a few years ago Sinn Fein agreed to social security powers being brought back to Westminster when they were unable to agree welfare reform.

They were happy enough for that to happen as it meant they didn’t have to take any difficult decisions. Those powers have subsequently been returned to Stormont.

It’s not that long ago that a senior Sinn Fein figure was able to get emergency health care provided by wealthy American friends — no four year waiting list there! Total hypocrisy.

It’s a case of don’t do as we do, do as we say.

The waiting lists are growing longer by the day — the hard working staff are up in arms and currently voting on industrial action.

In Northern Ireland a person has a one in 16 chance of being on a waiting list to see a consultant for over 12 months.

The equivalent figure in England is one chance in 48,000! (source Nuffield Trust and Professor Deirdre Heenan).

Yet Sinn Fein is objecting to a minister being appointed to help sort this out. It’s outrageous. How dare they place our fellow citizens at risk like that.

My attempt to get a minister appointed is on humanitarian grounds, Sinn Fein’s opposition is on political and ideological grounds. Sinn Fein are bullies and hypocrites.

I will reintroduce my bill in the new Parliament next month.

People want this service sorted out and they don’t care whether the minister is at Stormont or London.

In any event, immediately Stormont returns the powers will automatically return to the assembly, and rightly so.

The Ulster Unionist Party will do all that it can to see a minister appointed as soon as possible and I hope the government won’t allow itself to be bullied by these ideologues.

• Lord Empey is a former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party