Northern Ireland news

Belfast City Hall lights up for Motor Neurone Disease awareness

Belfast City Hall is lit in orange and blue, the colours of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, to help raise awareness of the condition that affects the brain and spinal cord. Picture by Cliff Donaldson 
Jennifer Maloney

BELFAST'S City Hall was lit up in orange and blue tonight - the colours of the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND) - to raise awareness of the condition.

Lord Mayor, Arder Carson held a civic reception inside the City Hall to highlight the ravages of the disease.

Families joined volunteers at the event that has made Belfast the first council in Northern Ireland to sign up to the MND charter – a pledge that aims to enshrine the rights of people living with MND.

Motor Neurone Disease is a rapidly progressing condition that affects the brain and spinal cord.

Between 100 and 120 people are living with the terminal condition in Northern Ireland while at any one time up to 5,000 adults in Britain are affected.

It attacks the nerves controlling movement so muscles refuse to work, while sensory nerves usually remain unaffected.

Lord Mayor Carson said: "While this disease attacks the individual, its effect also strikes at families so the repercussions are wider than the numbers of sufferers we know about.

"It can leave people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk and eventually breathe. MND does not discriminate and kills around a third of people within a year of diagnosis and more than half within two years.

"I am pleased that Belfast City Council is leading the way in signing the MND Charter and encourage other organisations to follow suit," he said.

MND is also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in the United States and while classified as a rare disease, it came to wider public attention following the global phenomenon of the ice bucket challenge last summer.

The civic reception follows a motion, raised by Councillor Emma Groves, and agreed by the council at its meeting in December.

The local branch of the MND Association was established in 1981 and more information for those living with the disease is available on their website www.mndani.com 

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