Some 200 people marched on Stormont on Monday to oppose what they believe are plans to continue with the closure of residential state care homes across Northern Ireland.
In recent weeks, Health Minister Edwin Poots has apologised for the stress felt by the residents of those homes which were earmarked for closure.
He also told all of the Province’s health trusts to drop their closure policy and said that the process would be centralised at a regional level.
Yesterday, trade union Unison spearheaded a march on Stormont to highlight the ongoing concerns of residents, relatives and staff linked to some 450 residents in 28 homes across the Province.
The protestors gathered at Carson’s statue in front of Stormont and marched up to the building where they were met by MLAs. Then they entered the senate chamber, where they were addressed by UUP MLA Roy Beggs.
Unison regional organiser Joe McCusker said: “The rally is a culmination of work that Unison undertook with residents and staff of the homes targeted for closure, relatives of residents, and local communities.”
TUV leader Jim Allister said: “Behind all the ducking and diving of the minister is the reality that it is his policy of refusing new admissions which is closing these homes by stealth.”
Alliance health spokesman Kieran McCarthy MLA said: “Those who attended the rally voiced their anger at the minister’s poor handling of this situation. He has yet to reassure us that he is acting in the best interests of the residents of these care homes.”
Mr Poots told the News Letter yesterday he was “not doing anything by stealth”.
Many homes are in poor condition and clients and carers need flexible solutions nearer to home which facilitate independence, he said.
He believes that “a slower pace than the Trusts envisaged will give us more space to accommodate people’s wishes”.
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