Raymond Blaney, originally uploaded by downgreenparty.

Born and reared in Downpatrick, A nurse by profession spent all of his working life caring for the mentally ill. Prematurely retired by a serious illness he fought back from that adversity to the stage where he stood for local election to emphasise the need to provide a new hospital with life saving capabilities for the area. A campaign which he had spearheaded over 20 years came to fruition with the decision of Health Minister Des Browne in February2003 to grant a new £35m hospital to include 24 hour A&E and Coronary Care. There was a downside with the closure of the Maternity for which he been campaigning to save since 1985. This included the only High Court legal challenge on behalf of the mothers of Down to save the Maternity hospital in 2000.

Raymond is a strong advocate for workers rights. He was Branch Secretary of the health service union Cohse and when it merged with other major unions he served on the National Exec Committee of Unison, the largest public service union in the UK. He has shown himself to be a courageous defender of his members so much so that during the major confrontation against privatisation in the local health service he was targeted by the Compass Company and served with high court injunction restraining him from joining the picket line and excluding him from his place of work. He ignored the injunction and continued to organise and lead the fight against the Company.

As a Down District Council councillor his reputation as a champion of people’s rights and defender of the Downe Hospital became known the length and breadth of the country and he lent his support to the Omagh campaigners in their fight to retain their hospital. In his early years as a Workers Party councillor in the late seventies he raised the Sellafield Nuclear issue. It later became the major environmental issue confronting the two islands.

Raymond retired before the 2005 Local Elections for health issues. Bill Corry took his place as the Down District candidate in the local elections. Raymond came out strongly supporting Bill Corrys nomination and helped in the successful campaign in which Bill Corry was elected to the Down District Council.