Squatting slammed - Former mayor of Derry, Alderman William O’Connell called on the Executive to crack down on a frightening increase in squatting in the city. His warning came as the Executive was forced to put a security firm on guard on two houses in the Glen Estate. And it follows a report that squatters entered the house of an elderly woman in the Rosemount area recently and threw her belongings into the front garden. It is understood that the west bank of Derry is not the only major urban area in Northern Ireland where squatting is on the increase. Alderman O’Connell said immediate action was needed before the housing list was in chaos. “The community is being held to ransom by people who are not prepared to wait their turn to be housed. Some recent reports of squatting have been nothing less than frightening, and this situation cannot be tolerated by the Executive.”
‘Let’s work together’ - Deputy mayor of Derry, Independent Unionist Councillor Jim Guy, has said that the time has come for nationalists and unionists to get together to work for the good of Derry. And the first step, he believes, is for the unionist councillors to end their boycott of Council business and return to the Council chamber. Councillor Guy, who was elected Deputy Mayor amid considerable shouting of abuse from DUP protesters, has said that as soon as people realise that two traditions exist and have to be accommodated in Derry, the easier it will be for the objective of a better Derry to be achieved.
Campaign against social security cuts - Derry Trades Council has called for a concerted cross-community effort to prevent the implementation of the Social Security changes proposed in the Fowler reviews. In a recent statement to the ‘Journal’ the Council expressed particular concern at the disastrous effects that would result if the special payments to people in receipt of benefits were scrapped. It was pointed out in the statement that unemployment and poverty were deeply rooted in local society. In the Derry, Limavady, and Strabane area, more than one in three families were receiving some form of benefit, either direct or supplementary Benefit, Family Income Supplement or Pensions. Deeply rooted structural unemployment was fundamentally different to the type of unemployment being experienced in Britain. In most areas of Britain people had access to enough work to provide them with a reasonable standard of living before becoming unemployed. Here, and especially west of the Bann, many people had been born, raised, and married on benefit. Areas such as this had been described by government ministers as problem areas not because of the poverty endured by people but for what they described as an unacceptably high benefit uptake per head of population.