Belfast Telegraph

Protesters demand that Dalriada Hospital stays open

By Nevin Farrell

There has been a massive display of people power in the streets of Ballycastle as a white-line picket snaked for a mile-and-a-half through the centre of the coastal town.

Hundreds of protesters, old and young, many clutching placards saying 'Stop the cuts', stood in the middle of the road starting outside Dalriada Hospital.

The protest continued along the Coleraine Road right through the Co Antrim town centre to the Marine Hotel corner and up North Street.

They were there to show their opposition to the temporary closure of Dalriada Hospital.

It was the third demonstration since the announcement that 32 beds would go as part of the Northern Health Trust's plan to address financial pressures facing the Department of Health.

Last Monday night, hundreds packed Moyle Council's headquarters to show their opposition and on the previous Friday protesters picketed the hospital itself.

The cost-cutting measure will see the short-term closure of Northern Ireland's only multiple sclerosis respite unit from the end of November until March next year.

It is just one of the health service cuts proposed as part of the £170m of savings required for 2014/15.

While the Northern Trust has said the closure at Dalriada is temporary, the MS Society has expressed serious concern at the developments.

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