» Friday, March 4, 2005

Northern Ireland

Asked what the reaction was to Gerry Adams turning in names to the police ombudsman regarding the Robert McCartney case, the PMOS said what was important was not so much the reaction of either the British or Irish Governments, but rather the reaction of the family, who were the victims of this crime. What they had said was whilst they welcomed such a move, what they would judge it by in the end was whether justice had been done. The PMOS said that all along, it had been the family who had been the most eloquent people in the "whole sad affair", and it was their words that were most important. The PMOS drew journalists' attention to the words of the Catholic Primate, Dr Sean Brady, who said yesterday that Catholics in Northern Ireland should set aside their historic suspicions of the police, and co-operate with the police service in Northern Ireland, particularly with reference to the murder of Robert McCartney, but not just in relation to that. The Government, clearly, would welcome such comments.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Ken Livingstone

Asked if Downing Street agreed with Ken Livingstone that Arial Sharon was a war criminal, and that Israel was engaging in ethnic cleansing, the PMOS that Mr. Livingstone was speaking for himself and was not a member of the Government. The PMOS referred journalists to what the Prime Minister had said in recent weeks about recognising the courageous efforts of Arial Sharon in terms of moving the process forward. This he was doing by moving forward and carrying through amidst stiff opposition, at least within his own party, the disengagement plan. Of course, as in Northern Ireland, people had views about the past, but the important things was what people were doing in the present to try and move things forward.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if the Prime Minister or the Government have a view about the BBC's decision to pay license payers money to Brendan Fearon, the PMOS said there were rules and regulations surrounding such matters, and no doubt the BBC would ensure it observed them. It was a matter for the BBC.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

John Reid

Asked if the Prime Minister was happy that John Reid was not going to visit Margaret Dixon, the PMOS replied that John Reid had set out his reasons yesterday and that belonged in the party political phase, which the PMOS would not get involved in. What people should focus on today, however, was what the Health Secretary would say in his speech later today. He would report to a conference of heart experts and patients that pre-mature deaths from heart-related disease had been reduced by 27% over the last six years. Similarly, 27,000 lives had been estimated to have been saved, and the proportion of people who had been treated with clot-busting drugs after a heart attack had risen to 54% from 24% as late as 2000. That was a jump of 34% in four years. That was where John Reid was putting his focus today.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)

Health services

Asked how much of the reduction was down to improved health lifestyles, and how much was down to clinical treatment, the PMOS said he was not a medical expert and he would direct the journalist to the DoH for that sort of detailed analysis. What was appropriate, however, was to recognise the impact that Government investment had had in terms of the health service itself; there were nearly 19,000 extra doctors, nearly 8000 extra consultants, and 67,000 extra nurses. Statistics such as those would have made a major impact in bringing about improvements.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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