Taking part in the Assembly Adjournment debate last week on the future of Dalriada Hospital TUV MLA Jim Allister commended the tenacity of the campaigners.
“I commend the tenacity of the Save the Dal campaign, which did not shrink from taking on the trust and the Department and, for its tenacity and the common sense that was on its side, saw a significant victory for people power over the trust and the Department.
“That was very welcome. It is also good to note that, not prepared to leave it there, they then embarked on a self-help initiative, producing the Colin Stutt report. It certainly makes for a very interesting read, with some positive proposals in it.
“For me, one of the most important things that it says about moving forward is that, drawing on the lesson of the attempt by the trust and Department to ram something down the community’s throat, there has to be a partnership approach to moving forward. It cannot be a top-down dictatorship again, simply handing down the solution as seen by some.
“If a future is to be moulded that meets the needs of all interests, it has to be done in partnership. As the report reflects, it has to be one that is itself reflective of the particular composition of that locality, with its higher than average number of senior citizens.
“Therefore, there has to be what the report refers to as a “strong fit” between the needs of the area and the outcomes for the area. That is key to all of this. It has to be a wholesale systems approach so that there is that tight fit between what the community needs and what the outcomes will be.
“If I have one reservation about the thrust of the conclusions of the Stutt report, it is in the realm of the lack of a clear focus on the future of the MS facility. It seems to me that it was a bit light in that department, yet that is a vital facility for that area and the wider area.
“However, holistically, I think it tracks a potential future approach that has much to recommend it and is certainly far preferable to the cul-de-sac that the trust and the Department previously wanted to lead us into.
“I trust that the spirit and vision that motivated the Save the Dal campaign will continue to the final delivery of that which fits the needs of that region.”