Poots deserves praise for hospice funding move
Last Saturday, the Belfast Telegraph was highly critical of the failure of the Stormont Executive to help finance the much-needed refurbishment of the Northern Ireland Hospice.
We described this lack of action by Stormont as "a disgrace", but we are happy to acknowledge today that the Health Minister Edwin Poots has acted swiftly in the meantime and has indicated that £2m will be provided to help put the hospice appeal on a sure footing.
This is £500,000 less than the hospice requested, and it is a pity that the situation was allowed to drift as far as it did, before Stormont took action.
However, it would be churlish to dwell on the negatives, and praise is due to Mr Poots and also to the local MP Nigel Dodds and all those people who are giving considerable support to the fundraising campaign.
The provision of £2m of government money is a good start for the hospice, which needs to raise around £11m to carry out the necessary improvements
This government backing will pave the way for further support from other funders at home and abroad who were waiting for Stormont to give a lead.
Happily, the money is now promised, and a tight target has been set by the minister who requires that the money must be spent by next March. This means that the construction can go ahead quickly, and there is every likelihood that the new and vastly improved facility may be ready to open before its 2014 target date.
This is good news for everyone, and particularly for the patients and their families. The situation was so bad recently that the hospice has had to transfer its patients and facilities into temporary accommodation at Whiteabbey Hospital.
This has caused distress, and has added to the strain which is already experienced by the patients, and their families, who are dealing with very serious illness. For their sake the minister's action is appreciated.
The hospice serves all of us, and it clearly deserves all our support.