The Workers Party has held a protest outside the gates of Stormont to highlight the appalling levels of poverty, social deprivation and the effects the rising cost of living is having on families and children.
Party spokesperson and veteran trade unionist Lily Kerr said,
” We hope this will send a strong message to all those who think that flags, border polls and sectarian headcounts will pay the bills or put food on the table”.
“Politics and the media are dominated daily by petty disputes over ‘who-said-what’, what flag to fly, what title to give someone and who’s going to be the First Minister”, she said
“Meanwhile, in the real world, families are going hungry, children are going without heat and workers, as well as those people on benefits, are forced to use food banks to try and make ends meet”.
Northern Ireland has higher levels of multiple deprivation than the rest of the UK with over a third of the population living on or below the breadline.
Low pay and inadequate benefits lead to poverty and of heat and food lead to mental and physical ill health
Computers and internet access are unaffordable for many families.
People are struggling with rent and mortgage payments
Some people are losing their homes.25% of children live in poverty
Fuel poverty is a reality for thousands of local families
“Poverty is not inevitable”, Lily said. “It is a direct result of an economic system that values profit more than people”. “Only a socialist society will consign poverty, deprivation and despair to history, but we must make immediate demands and see immediate changes to improve people’s lives, health and futures” she said
Our immediate response to the current crisis is a call for:
better jobs with better wages
a more flexible working environment
higher pay for low-income families
strengthen and simplify the benefits system
invest in public services
an immediate universal fuel allowance
more public affordable housing.