As a record number of COVID-19 cases have been recorded in recent days both north and south, two Workers’ Party representatives on either side of the border are calling for a high-quality and accessible all-island healthcare system.

David Gardiner, Workers’ Party representative in Palmerstown-Fonthill, said:

“Politicians have had a year to prepare for a spike in COVID-19 cases at Christmas time, but instead they’ve sat on their hands as our healthcare system remains criminally under-resourced. We are now seeing the result of that, which is tens of thousands of cases on a daily basis over the last few days.

“Rather than ensuring that our healthcare workers are well-equipped and working in a properly funded healthcare system, the government has decided that their time would be better spent just telling people not to go out too much. The role of the government is to protect public health by making decisions, not to act in an advisory role.”

“The inaction of the government is absolute political cowardice, which leaves working people to suffer the consequences.”

Peter Sullivan, Workers’ Party spokesperson in west Belfast, said:

“Despite the fact that we are in a pandemic, the Tories remain determined as ever to chip away at the NHS and sell it off to private interests. Sinn Féin and the DUP, meanwhile, aren’t putting up much of a fight to protect it.”

“The NHS may have faults, but ultimately it provides working people with healthcare that is free at the point of use. The underfunding of the system leaves it poorly equipped to handle the record-breaking case numbers that we are seeing at the minute. This is, no doubt, ultimately done with the aim of privatising the entire system, leaving workers at the mercy of the private market.”

“This pandemic has shown us the clear need for not only accessible healthcare, but also a system that can coordinate it throughout Ireland, as a virus spike in Derry will quickly spread to Donegal and vice versa. The Workers’ Party is calling for an all-island National Healthcare System, free at the point of use and paid for through taxation, for the benefit of working people and our families.”