Responding to reports that the health minister has requested assistance from the British Army Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill said today:
“I have been informed that the Minister for Health Robin Swann has unilaterally and without consultation with Executive colleagues requested limited assistance from the British Army.
“Sinn Féin has made it clear we will not rule out any measure necessary to save lives, protect the public and tackle the spread of Coronavirus.
“However, no proposal to use British military personnel in the north for roles normally performed by civilians has come before the Executive.
“I have raised the sensitivities of British military intervention directly with the British Secretary of State Brandon Lewis.
“The health minister has a responsibility to exhaust all options, including the use of other blue light public services and civilian contractors, to ensure that ventilators and life saving equipment are moved swiftly to where they are needed most.
“The Department for Health has already contracted a local civilian contractor to scope out building a HSC-led civilian ‘field hospital’.
“It remains Sinn Féin’s position that any proposed new Nightingale hospital should remain under the care and control of the HSC.
“Sinn Féin is seeking an urgent meeting with the health minister, on his failure to consult ministerial colleagues at yesterday’s Executive meeting.
“We will also be seeking meetings with the British Secretary of State, the Tanáiste and the PSNI given the seriousness of a decision to bring in the British military.”