NW pensioner fears penny-pinching policies will hurt us

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Londonderry pensioner Martin Gallagher says older people fear they may be victimised by short-sighted, penny-pinching policies that could diminish their quality of life and has warned incumbent and aspirant politicians to beware the grey vote this spring.

Mr Gallagher, a member of the Pensioners Parliament for Londonderry made the comments at Stormont at an event hosted by the Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin MLA.

Mr Gallagher said: “Since 2011, the Pensioners Parliament has engaged with thousands of older people across Northern Ireland, and it’s clear there are many bread and butter issues that older people believe the Assembly could address better.

“There are also real fears that, in times of stretched budgets, older people could fall victim to short-sighted policies that will have a negative impact on their quality of life for years to come.

“At the ‘Question Time’ event we had the opportunity to direct some pointed questions at Ministers on more effective schemes to tackle fuel poverty, plans to end age discrimination, free prescriptions, operation waiting times and home care packages.

“We know the timing of our ‘Question Time’ event means it has the potential to be quite influential. With only three months to go until the Northern Ireland Assembly election, it was the ideal time to highlight our concerns with key Ministers, as their parties prepare their campaigns and manifestos for the upcoming election.

“Our goal is to see the calls contained in our manifesto replicated in the manifestos of local political parties, and eventually for these calls to appear in the next Programme for Government. Timing is everything, and now is the time for older people to ensure our voices are heard.”

For more information on the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, visit www.pensionersparliament.org or phone Age Sector Platform on 028 9031 2089.