Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Councillor Julie Flaherty has thanked the local authority’s head of Community Planning, Policy & Research, Elaine Gillespie, for convening an urgent meeting of the Health Working Group, following the announcement that about 17,500 NI women are to have their smear tests reviewed.
Speaking at a recent full council meeting in Craigavon Civic Centre, the UUP representative for Portadown DEA commented: “I want to put on record my thanks to Elaine Gillespie – thank you for so quickly convening a meeting of the Health Working Group.
“It was really heartening to see such a good attendance by both members and by the Southern Trust – I think that’s down to you Elaine – about what is a women’s health crisis in our area.
“It was a useful exercise more than anything, I think, in establishing a link with our local Health Trust again in the continued absence of any other Health Committee or minister.
“These ladies with letters [telling them their smear tests are going to be reviewed] are organising themselves. A number of us have met them again and are in regular contact. Those women are not a statistic here, they are women and they deserve better.
“I listed names of women in the last committee. I honestly can’t do that this time because there are hundreds linking in now. They are very strong, they are very articulate, and they feel they have been failed and they need supported.
“I shared a piece of advice with them that was given to me a decade ago – that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I fear we’re in for a long haul.
“We did receive notification today of [another] planned meeting. I think that’s important that we get all the information we can from the Trust, and perhaps have an opportunity to meet with the ladies [who have received] letters at some point.”