Carrickfergus-led motion on firefighter screening receives all-party support

A motion calling for the Health Minister to introduce annual cancer screening for serving and retired firefighers has been supported by the Assembly.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 12:30 pm
David Hilditch MLA (centre) with party colleagues Jonathan Buckley and Pam Cameron and Jim Quinn and Phil Millar from the Fire Brigades Union,

It was brought by East Antrim DUP MLA David Hilditch, whose son Stuart, a former part-time firefighter, died in 2019 after a long battle with illness.

Speaking after the motion - which recognises the increased risk of firefighters contracting cancer and other illnesses compared to other members of the public - won support, Mr Hilditch said: “I am delighted that my motion has received unanimous cross-party support and has passed in the Assembly.

“The statistics are truly shocking with firefighters up to four times as likely to develop cancer and other and other illnesses than other people. It is my firm belief that this motion, with support from the Health Minister, has a real opportunity to save lives and make a lasting difference to firefighters, serving and retired, as well as their families and friends.

“I have dedicated this to all firefighters, particularly those who are currently battling or have lost their battle with cancer. Many will know that I have a very close personal connection with the content of this motion and I wish to do all I can to protect the lives of those who give so much to protect us.”

South Antrim MLA Pam Cameron, who helped bring the motion to the chamber, said: “This is an emotional subject for many, but the motion is about an issue that really matters to hundreds of firefighters and their families. As a community, we are reliant on our firemen and firewomen to keep us safe, so we must step up to protect them as they step up, each and every day, to protect us. The nature of the job results in increased exposure to carcinogens, and we need to ensure that other extremely important measures are in place to give firefighters the best protection.”

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has been asked for a comment.

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Click here to read: Carrickfergus Marine Gardens plaque tribute to firefighters

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