Billy Caldwell cannabis oil battle unites Northern Ireland politicians



UUP East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs
UUP East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs

UUP East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs

By Staff Reporters

June 18 2018

It is now long overdue for the UK to make a permanent and compassionate decision on the use of medicinal cannabis oil, the Ulster Unionists have said.

Roy Beggs MLA is one of a number of politicians to support changing laws surrounding medical marijuana after a severely epileptic boy’s high-profile battle for treatment.

Mr Beggs said: “It is frankly outrageous the Caldwells were forced to fly to Canada for a six-month supply of the prescribed medication, only for it to be later cruelly seized at the airport.

“Charlotte Caldwell has not only been an enduring hero to her son Billy, but also to the thousands of other people across the UK campaigning for an evidence-based approach to the use of medicinal cannabis oil.

“In 2018 it is simply not good enough that increasingly archaic legal restrictions were put in the way of delivering the best possible care to a 12-year-old boy.

“The time is long-overdue for the UK to make a final decision on the medical use of cannabis oil. It works in the case of Billy Caldwell, and there is an ever-growing evidence base of it working for many other conditions.

“Until then, I fear the Caldwells won’t be the only family to get caught up in the legal ambiguity surrounding the use of the medication.” Green Party in NI leader Steven Agnew said the initial decision to take Billy’s medication away was “senseless and cruel”.

“I wish Billy well and hope that his condition improves as the cannabis oil is administered,” he said.

“However, I am minded of the many other Billys out there – children and adults with conditions that could be improved by the use of cannabis oil.

“This medicine helps Billy, so why shouldn’t everyone in a similar medical position be given access to it?”

Sinn Fein MP Orfhlaith Begley described the Home Office decision as “life-saving”.

She said: “Billy should never have been put in that position.

“The treatment was clearly working for him and he deteriorated badly once it ended, yet it still took intense lobbying to get the Home Office to reverse this cruel decision.”

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said the Home Office was “completely wrong to confiscate Billy’s cannabis oil” in the first instance.

“This issue could have been completely prevented to begin with and never needed to happen,” he said.

“I am however delighted that the decision has been overturned and Billy will be able to start treatment again soon.

“The SDLP will continue to lobby for reform of laws relating to the use of cannabis oil as a medical treatment. No person or child should be allowed to suffer needlessly when there’s a clinical need for treatment.”

Belfast Telegraph


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Permanent and compassionate decision needed on use of medicinal cannabis oil – Beggs

The Ulster Unionist Party’s Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA, has said that following the travesty of Billy Caldwell having essential medication withdrawn and later seized, followed then by the Home Secretary being forced into using an exceptional power to return it, the time is now long overdue for the UK to make a permanent and compassionate decision on the use of medicinal cannabis oil.

Roy Beggs said:

“It is frankly outrageous that the Caldwell’s were forced to fly to Canada for a six-month supply of the prescribed medication, only for it to be later cruelly seized at the airport.

“Charlotte Caldwell has not only been an enduring hero to her son Billy, but also to the thousands of other people across the UK campaigning for an evidence-based approach to the use of medicinal cannabis oil.

“In 2018 it is simply not good enough that increasingly archaic legal restrictions were put in the way of delivering the best possible care to a 12 year old boy.

“The time is long-overdue for the UK to make a final decision on the medical use of cannabis oil. It works in the case of Billy Caldwell, and there is an ever growing evidence base of it working for many other conditions. Until then, I fear the Caldwell’s won’t be the only family to get caught up in the legal ambiguity surrounding the use of the medication.”

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Abortion in Northern Ireland: Where do the parties stand?

The law governing abortion in Northern Ireland dates back to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Criminal Justice Act (NI) 1945. They make abortion illegal in almost every circumstance.

The 1967 Abortion Act in Britain, allowing for abortion up to 24 weeks, was never extended to the North.

Access to abortion is only permitted if a woman’s life is at risk or if there is risk to her mental or physical health that is long term or permanent.

Pregnancy involving rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality (FFA) are not circumstances in which abortions can be performed legally.

Thirteen abortions, within the current law, took place in Northern Ireland hospitals in 2016/17.

However, it is estimated that every day two or three women from Northern Ireland travel to Britain for an abortion, with many others risking prosecution for self-administering abortifacients or abortion pills.

Prior to Stormont collapsing in January 2017, Assembly members voted on a proposal to legalise abortion in cases of FFA. The motion was defeated by 59 to 40. An amendment allowing for abortion in cases of rape was also defeated by 64 to 30.

The Irish Times asked parties to explain their current stance on the issue.

Democratic Unionist Party

The DUP (which holds 28 seats at the Assembly) described itself as “a pro-life party”.

Politicians are whipped on the matter, all of its MLAs have always voted against abortion law reform in the past and will continue to do so, a spokeswoman said.

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin (with 27 Assembly seats) will hold its next ard fheis in Belfast on June 15th/16th, where it is anticipated that party policy will change from support for abortion in cases of rape, incest and FFA to approval of abortion in line with Government plans after the referendum.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald has said while everyone in the party was entitled to a position of conscience on abortion when it come to making law for society and formulating public policy elected representatives are bound to a “democratic, considered, collective position”.

“We have to legislate for all,” a spokesman said.

Speaking in London on Thursday, after the UK Supreme Court found the North’s abortion laws were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill backed the call for reform.

Ms O’Neill said the criminalisation of women must end through the repeal of Sections 58 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

“That legislative change should be brought about by locally elected MLAs and should be brought about in the Assembly,” she said.

SDLP

The SDLP (with 12 seats) describes itself as “a pro-life party” but does not apply a party whip on the issue.

On May 19th, days before the referendum in the Republic, the SDLP held a special conference on abortion. The party said the “membership reaffirmed our position as a pro-life party. The conference also supported freedom of conscience voting for elected representatives”.

South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna, who supported repeal of the Eighth Amendment, said she was “instinctively a pro-life person” but was “still very conflicted”.

“I would support reforms on FFA, sexual crime and decriminalisation,” she said.

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan says he was “pro-life”. On whether he would vote for any abortion reform he said: “It would depend what the choices are.”

“We certainly don’t want to see the extension of the 1967 Act similar to that in England,” he said.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath described the referendum result as “stark”, with a clear message for repeal.

“As a democrat I respect that vote though I remain a pro-life supporter,” he said.

“We must be a compassionate society – one that looks out for women and helps them in their hour of need. I’m not sure that abortion on demands best meets that need.”

Ulster Unionist Party

The UUP (which holds 10 seats) does not apply a party whip on the issue either.

Leader and North Antrim MLA Robin Swann MLA, said recent language used by DUP politicians Sammy Wilson MP and Jim Wells MLA regarding abortion was “both hurtful and insensitive to women and families”.

“I am pro-life and I am on record as such,” he said.

“I am reassured that our party stance on abortion, as being a matter of conscience, is the right one.”

Strangford MLA and former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said he did not like to look at the issue “as a binary”.

“I would vote for law reform so abortion was available in cases of sexual crimes and fatal foetal abnormality,” he said.

“I would no more insist a woman go full term than I would force them to abort. It has to be their decision.”

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs said he was “somewhere in the middle”.

“I am not black and white,” he said.

“I am not in favour of abortion on demand. Having spoken to a number of women who had suffered fatal foetal abnormality I recognise their plight.”

Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie said he was “quite strongly pro-choice”. South Antrim MLA Steve Aiken said he was “a very strong supporter of women’s rights”.East Belfast MLA Andy Allen said he wanted to see “legislative change”, while East Antrim MLA John Stewart says he was “anti abortion but pro choice”.

Alliance Party

The Alliance Party (which holds eight seats) also takes a conscience position.

Leader and East Belfast MLA Naomi Long said there are circumstances, including FFA, rape and incest, “in which termination may be the least worst option”.

She said it was “not sustainable, safe or fair” for women to have to travel for abortion or take pills procured online, risking prosecution that may deter them from seeking medical help in related emergencies.

“As a deeply personal matter, I feel this should ultimately be for the woman to decide,” she said.

“I therefore, support decriminalisation, with access to free, safe, legal termination within strict gestational limits. I do not support the extension of the 1967 Act to NI.”

Former Alliance leader, South Antrim MLA David Ford, proposed allowing abortions in cases of FFA while justice minster but was blocked by the Executive.

“Full decriminalisation is not the answer as there are issues re coercive control which mean it may well be appropriate to prosecute someone who has forced a woman to have an abortion,” he said

Green Party

Green Party North Down and South Belfast MLAs Steven Agnew and Clare Bailey are both pro choice and want to see abortion “decriminalised without delay”.

“It is a health matter not a criminal issue,” Ms Bailey said.

People Before Profit

People Before Profit West Belfast MLA Gerry Carroll is pro choice.

“Abortion reform needs to happen now,” he said. “The Tories are sitting on their hands, worried about the DUP.”

Traditional Unionist Voice

TUV leader Jim Allister is anti-abortion and does not support any change in the law.

“I think our law is adequate and compassionate,” he said.

“It provides where there is serious risk to the health or life of the mother.”

Independent unionist

Former justice minister and independent unionist MLA Claire Sugden said she did not “label” her position as she was “conflicted on the issue”.

“Ultimately, I believe women should have bodily autonomy,” she said.


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Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/abortion-in-northern-ireland-where-do-the-parties-stand-1.3522879

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Authorities to monitor cause of Carrick rail bridge strikes

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs has renewed his call for additional measures to prevent railway bridge strikes in Carrickfergus.

It follows a response from the Department of Infrastructure to correspondence over recent incidents at the North Road structure, which has resulted in the closure of the Larne railway line and blocked one of the Carrick’s busiest roads.

The Ulster Unionist Party representative had asked the department for a significant upgrade in warning signage at the location so that visitors driving high-sided vehicles are less likely to get caught out.

The DfI advised the MLA the department and Translink had carried out an audit of the signage on the approaches bridge in September 2016 and found it to be in accordance with current advice and best practice.

It added: “There are warning signs on the two approaches to the bridge which clearly indicate the presence of a low bridge stating the maximum height of vehicle which can safely pass under the bridge. There is a responsibility for all drivers to be in control of their vehicles at all times and to pay attention to warning signs and be aware of the size of the vehicle they are controlling.”

In a statement this week, Mr Beggs said both NIR and DfI roads have assured him they will continue to monitor the primary cause of the bridge strikes.

“In my opinion it is clear that additional measures are required following repeated vehicle strikes on the low bridge, which routinely cause traffic disruption on one of the busiest roads serving Carrickfergus,” said Mr Beggs

The railway bridge is subject to height restrictions which prevent vehicles of more than 3.3m passing underneath. On Monday, May 14 a touring bus struck the bridge, which led to the latter being examined and the line deemed safe to remain open. It was the second such incident inside a week at the location. On Tuesday, May 8 a lorry became stuck underneath the bridge.


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Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/transport/authorities-to-monitor-cause-of-carrick-rail-bridge-strikes-1-8524291

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Beggs receives update from Department re: North Road railway bridge

East Antrim Ulster Unionist Party MLA Roy Beggs has received an update from the Department of Infrastructure in relation to his request “for a significant upgrade in warning signage so that visitors driving high sided vehicles are less likely to get caught out” at the North Road railway bridge.

The Department of Infrastructure have advised the MLA as follows: “I can confirm that the Department and Translink carried out an audit of the signage on the approaches to North Road bridge in September 2016 and found it to be in accordance with current advice and best practice.

There are warning signs on the two approaches to the bridge which clearly indicate the presence of a low bridge stating the maximum height of vehicle which can safely pass under the bridge. There is a responsibility for all drivers to be in control of their vehicles at all times and to pay attention to warning signs and be aware of the size of the vehicle they are controlling.”

Roy Beggs said “Both NIR and DfI Roads have assured me that they will continue to monitor the primary cause of the bridge strikes. In my opinion it is clear that additional measures are required following repeated vehicle strikes on the low bridge, which routinely cause traffic disruption on one of the busiest roads serving Carrickfergus.”

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