Is Client Council decision a sign of things to come?

Published: 13 Sep 2012 14:300 comments

AS if tensions between Fermanagh and Omagh weren't heavy enough at the moment, it seems that the County now has an additional gripe with its Council neighbour.

The decision of the Patient Client Council to not take its Roadshow to Fermanagh will be seen as a sign of things to come by those opposing the merger of Councils.

Already at loggerheads over where the new headquarters for the amalgamated 2015 Council will be located, Fermanagh has been snubbed in favour of a Patient Client Council (PCC) roadshow in the Tyrone County town later this year.

And Fermanagh District Councillors were lamenting the PCC's "refusal to acknowledge that Fermanagh even exists" during their latest monthly meeting.

The roadshows have been organised to provide an opportunity for members to share their views with those responsible for the implementation of changes to Health and Social Care services in Northern Ireland.

Due to take place on November 7, the closest roadshow meeting to Fermanagh is planned for the Tara Centre in Omagh.

And it seems the move has only served to add insult to injury for those who believe Fermanagh should have the chance to facilitate its own meeting.

Ulster Unionist Councillor, Raymond Farrell raised the issue in the Chamber.

He said he had written to the PCC expressing his dissatisfaction at their decision.

"I have been told that they will help and assist with travel expenses for anybody from Fermanagh who wishes to come to Omagh's meeting."

But Councillors found this far for suffice.

"It should be in Fermanagh, they are supposed to be 'our voice' on Health and Social Care," said DUP Councillor, Bert Johnston, "It is unfair that they should treat us in such a way."

According to Mr Farrell, the PCC have taken the decision to work their roadshows on a "rotational basis" between Omagh and Fermanagh from now on.

"I was disappointed that Fermanagh didn't get its own opportunity," he later told The Impartial Reporter, "Considering we have a new £276 million hospital here.

"Promoting and highlighting Fermanagh is something that we need to continually be on the front foot about. The County has significant disadvantages in terms of deprivation levels. And where there is deprivation there is an impact on people's health, physically and mentally. So we can't take our eye off the ball in order to ensure that Fermanagh gets its fair share of opportunities."

Sinn Fein Councillor, Brian McCaffrey said the offer of covering travel expenses was not acceptable.

"It's not an issue of the PCC providing travel expenses for people -- it's an issue of recognising the people of Fermanagh within their own right. We are entitled to exactly the same services. God help us if they are our representatives and they can't give us the services that we are supposed to be entitled to. It doesn't give out a good message at all."

And DUP's Alison Brimstone questioned the prudence in paying for travel expenses rather than allowing Fermanagh to facilitate its own meeting.

"I see this as their refusal to acknowledge that Fermanagh even exists," she said.

Councillors agreed that a letter should be sent to the PCC, questioning the move and the prudence on paying for travel expenses.

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