One hundred and ten British Army medics have been deployed to Northern Ireland hospitals to assist with the Covid crisis, operating as regular NHS staff. In the aftermath of this announcement, many Unison members and branches reacted angrily to a statement issued by the leadership of their union, which they perceived to be in opposition to the use of army medical staff in the battle against the pandemic. The Unison leadership statement was written without forethought or sensitivity on an issue that has the potential, if mishandled, to create sectarian tensions and divisions amongst their membership.
The beginning of 2021 has seen a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases across Ireland, North and South. Both states have infection rates among the worst in the world, as the Stormont Executive and Irish government continue to fail working people with their mishandling of the pandemic.
A full inquest into the tragic death of Noah Donohoe is scheduled for January 2022. The 14-year-old went missing near Belfast city centre on 21st June 2020 on his way to meet friends in the north of the city, prompting a massive search operation. Six days later, his body was found in a storm drain. Noah’s death was met with genuine outpourings of grief from across the community.
Women and pregnant people in Northern Ireland are again being forced to travel in order to access early medical abortion services. As of 5th January, the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust cancelled their services.