UUP meet Prime Minister at Stormont

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UUP meet Prime Minister at Stormont

After meeting the Prime Minister and Secretary of State at Stormont, Ulster Unionist Party leader, Doug Beattie MC MLA commented:

 “The opportunity to meet and chat with the Prime Minister was a useful way of bringing to an end the saga of having no devolved government for the last two years. However, that is not the end of the issues facing Northern Ireland; instead, it is just the beginning of those deep-rooted challenges.

 “To that end, I pressed the Prime Minister on a number of issues. Firstly, investment and economic stimulus for the North West; it is important that this region is not left out of the overall plans contained in the government’s latest commitments. They deserve more attention, not less. This includes ensuring that enhanced investment zones, which have been promised by the Government, take into account the strategic positioning of Foyle Ports and Harbours as well as other locations.

 “Having shown real political courage and taken on the Health portfolio, it is clear we have hit the ground running, but we need to raise issues that are less well understood as we deliver the main outcomes. To that end, I raised the issue of the state-backed indemnity insurance for GPs presently in operation in England and Wales. My ask was that GPs in Northern Ireland, who have to take out their own insurance, be given access to the English and Welsh schemes.

 “There are also practical ways of dealing with the waiting lists that continue to grow in Northern Ireland. A previous Government Secretary of State for Health – Steve Barclay MP – offered to meet Scots and Welsh health Ministers to assist with waiting lists. My ask is that our new Health Minister – Robin Swann MLA – now has the same discussions with the government ministers. We would also like early discussions between the government and the Health department on mutual aid.

 “These ‘grip and grin’ sessions are part of political life, and I am genuinely glad to see our Prime Minister here in Northern Ireland. However, I will continue to remind him; it cannot be a ‘fire and forget’ policy. There needs to be long-term engagement with our fragile devolved government to ensure challenges are met and dealt with long before they become crises.”