Packed Belfast meeting greets Dr Derek Enlander and launches new Northern Ireland Alliance

One of the largest meetings of people with M.E. and their carers seen in the UK for many years gathered in Belfast last Thursday (March 1) – for a medical lecture by New York physician Dr Derek Enlander and to launch the new ME Alliance Northern Ireland (MEANI).

The main conference room in the Lansdowne Hotel on the Antrim Road was jam packed as about 400 people turned up from every corner of the Province.

They listened intently as Dr Enlander, an Ulsterman born and bred, talked about his clinical practice and research with ME/CFS patients at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Among the crowd and an honoured guest was Jim Wells, Democratic Unionist Assemblyman for South Down and designate Health Minister for Northern Ireland.

The meeting was organised by Joan McParland, chairwoman of Newry and Mourne ME/FMS Support Group, who said afterwards: “I had 277 bookings for places but on the night over 400 people turned up. Every seat in the hotel was carried into the conference room and there were still people standing at the back of the room.

“The numbers were way above health and safety limits but thankfully the hotel didn’t turn anyone away!”

Dr Enlander – who engaged with his audience in a Question and Answer session chaired by Dr William Weir, an infectious diseases consultant based in central London – travelled to Antrim the following day for an M.E. workshop held by the Health and Social Care Board. This discussed possible ways forward for the development of a comprehensive NHS service for ME/CFS in Northern Ireland.

The Belfast meeting put the final seal on the formation of the ME Alliance Northern Ireland, which is determined to push hard on the agenda for better ME/CFS services throughout Northern Ireland. The Alliance comprises representatives of support groups in Belfast, Newry and Mourne, Mid-Ulster and South Down.

Among other speakers in Belfast were: the Health Minister designate; Michael O’Reilly, director of the Dublin-based Irish M.E. Trust; and social policy researcher Dr Jay Wiggan from Queen’s University, Belfast.

MEANI inquiries to Mrs McParland at joanmcparland@live.co.uk

Pictured above: Dr Enlander (wearing a red tie) with members of the organising committee.

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