A SUFFICIENT amount of funds from the Government’s £1.4bn cash injection for Northern Ireland should be used to improve health and educational services in East Antrim, a leading member of the Alliance Party said today.
Alderman Stewart Dickson, who is the Alliance Party’s spokesman on health issues, made the call after Wednesday’s announcement of the government’s plans to upgrade Northern Ireland’s health and education sector.
It is understood that the bulk of the money will be targeted at education and health, but funds are also to be made available to improve roads and encourage overall economic growth.
The government hopes to improve the health service by ensuring that by the year 2002, death rates from heart disease and strokes is reduced by 40 per cent. In relation to schooling, the government aims to raise educational standards among primary and secondary school children.
And, in welcoming the proposals, Mr. Dickson said it was essential for the government to recognise that “important decisions” had to be made about the future of health and education in the East Antrim area.
“Any major cash injection for our schools and health service has to be welcomed, but we must make sure that the money is spent wisely,” said the former Mayor of Carrickfergus.
“The reality is that we have to keep our head above the water and we must do all that we can to ensure that some of the funding is allocated to hospitals, schools and health centres in the East Antrim area.
“For instance, I think that there is an urgent need for more staff in hospitals and health centres in the East Antrim area and this must be addressed with the utmost attention.
“I also think it is important for the Government to consult members of the new Assembly on the allocation of funding. It is clear that member of the Assembly will have an important role to play in education and health matters,” he said.