Efforts to prevent the closure of Northern Ireland’s only dedicated Multiple Sclerosis unit at the Dalriada Hospital in Ballycastle have taken on global significance.
For not only has the campaign produced an astonishing response locally, but support for retaining the facility has spread across the world.
Social media is now awash with pictures of people displaying placards registering their support for the unit.
In America, Mexico, Canada, Spain, France, Hong Kong and as far as Australia ex-pats and friends have been showing their support for the centre. This has given local campaigners renewed confidence as they bid to persuade health chiefs that the 12-bed facility should stay open.
With more than 4000 people in the Province affected by MS – one of the highest rates in the world – families have been left distressed by the news particularly as services of late have been drastically reduced.
Protests locally have gained momentum since the announcement.
And, many have commented that they have never seen a community take such a firm stand against health chiefs. The support from all over the world has galvanised those spearheading the challenge and can only serve to provide a real boost to their campaign.
Meanwhile last Friday Ballycastle was gridlocked with tractors and lorries who took part in a rural Campaign to Save Dalriada Hospital in the town.
Ian Paisley MP joined the protestor’s at the picket, alongside MLA’s Daithi McKay, John Dallat and councillors, where tractors blocked the hospital and the town in protest at the closure.
Earlier that morning Health Minister Jim Wells visited the Hospital and spent a hour talking to patients and staff. He also spent time during his walk around talking to the hundreds of protestors waiting outside the Ballycastle facility.
At the meeting, Ian Paisley MP for North Antrim, Dr Mary McLister and Dr Feargal Hasson as well the chair of Moyle council, Donal Cunningham, met with Health Minister, Jim Wells. It is expected that a announcement about the hospital’s future will be made at the start of this week.
More pictures online!
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