Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has welcomed the appointment of Robin Swann as Northern Ireland’s new Health Minister, and said that the choice of the Health portfolio proves that the Ulster Unionist Party does indeed regard health as a priority.
Lord Empey said:
“I was delighted to see Robin Swann MLA appointed as Health Minister on Saturday. The Ulster Unionist Party took a calculated decision to choose the Health Department. We had an alternative, but honoured our commitment to put the Health of the people of Northern Ireland at the forefront of our policy agenda. While other parties have been vocal in recent days calling for improvements in Health and condemning lengthening waiting lists, none of them availed of the opportunity to take up the challenge, and passed the portfolio by.
“This is nothing new. In 2007, the Ulster Unionist Party took the Health Department as its first portfolio, when yet again other parties had the chance to take it, but ducked out. At that stage, our Health and Social Services were in a much better state than they are today. Nevertheless, I well recall that Michael McGimpsey, who became Health Minister, was hounded from the very start by the big parties, particularly the DUP. He had to face over 60 debates and over 4,000 questions, and although he regularly warned the Executive of the long-term funding crisis that was coming in Health, his pleas fell on deaf ears. His warnings have now been proven to be well founded.
“I am proud of the fact that the Ulster Unionist Party has stepped up to the plate to help solve what has become the greatest crisis in Health since the Service was created in 1947.”