Nicola Sturgeon has challenged the UK Government to “go faster” in providing cash promised to help find a cure for motor neurone disease (MND) following the death of Doddie Weir.
The Scottish First Minister spoke out following the death of the rugby legend and MND campaigner.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I pledge today in memory of the great Doddie Weir that the Government I lead will continue to do all we can to find the cure he so desperately wanted.”
In November 2021, the UK Government committed at least £50 million to help find new therapies, and eventually a cure, for MND – a condition which is both progressive and incurable.
Former rugby league player Rob Burrows, who is now confined to a wheelchair because of MND, has already questioned how many more “warriors” have to die “before this stupid Government give the (£) 50m they said they would give”.
Ms Sturgeon was questioned about the funding at First Minister’s Question’s at Holyrood, with Tory Brian Whittle calling on MSPs to “unify as a Parliament to encourage the UK Government to move quicker”.
The First Minister told him: “I would encourage the UK Government to go faster, but I would also say to my Government we need to go faster and do everything we can here and we need to work together.
“We already work closely with charitable organisations and we will continue to do that.”
She added: “There are positive signs thanks to the research that is being done but we need to make sure we support those who have the skills and the expertise to find a cure, that they have all of the necessary support and resources to do that.”
Her comments came as she paid tribute to Weir, who set up the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, raising millions to fund research into the disease, which she described as a “horrible condition”.
Ms Sturgeon hailed Weir as “a Scottish sporting legend” adding he was “in so many ways one of a kind”.
She continued: “He was a hero of rugby, but off the pitch the way he responded to his MND diagnosis was truly inspirational.
“He campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of this cruel condition as well as raising money for research through his foundation in the hope a cure will be found so that others coming after him would benefit from that.”
She said the Scottish Government shared “Doddie’s vision of a world without MND”, saying that since 2015 it had invested about £700,000 into research.
Other party leaders joined the tributes to Weir, with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross speaking about his “incredible life and legacy”.
Mr Ross stated: “During his fight to find a cure for motor neurone disease, Doddie has been an inspiration to all of us with his bravery, his infectious optimism and his love of life.
“Scotland has lost a true sporting legend and a champion in the fight against motor neurone disease.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Weir was “an inspiration to us all and a champion for those battling MND”.
He stated: “It was clear throughout his life, both as a player and as a campaigner, that he was a force to be reckoned with.
“He viewed his heart-breaking diagnosis of motor neurone disease as a call to action, and bravely shared his story with the world, raising millions of pounds for that cause.”
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