A protest against Atos, the company responsible for implementing disability benefits cuts is to be held at Waterloo Place this Thursday afternoon at 1pm. The protest, which will see campaigners meet by the Olympic screen in Derry city centre, has been organised by Resist Unjust Cuts - RUC, which is calling on people to march from the screening of the Paralympic Games to the ATOS office at Strand Road.
ATOS hit the headlines earlier this year when 50% of people they passed fit for work later won an appeal to have their sickness benefits reinstated.
One leading community activist has urged the public to voice their opposition to repeated attacks on the benefit system.
Kathleen Bradley of Dove House said: “I’m urging people to realise they really need to stand up and take the power back. This is the point we have reached - government are now attacking those with the least in society. I would urge those not on sickness benefit to attend also as this is a fight for everyone. We can’t expect those on disability benefits to stand up for themselves, they need the support of the entire community.”
A spokesperson for Resist Unjust Cuts (RUC) said: “This week of the Paralympics will see disabled people across England, Scotland and Wales protesting against one of the Paralymic Games’ main sponsors, ATOS. Derry, too, will have its protest as we take to the streets. RUC - a coalition of disabled and non-disabled, young and not-so-young people who want to resist the cuts to benefits and services that are hitting Derry hard – will gather at the Olympic screen in Waterloo Place and walk to the ATOS office on Strand Road to arrive for 2pm.
“Everyone says they are against the cuts to benefits and services that are slashing the living standards of most people in the Derry City area, but hitting disabled people and families with children hardest. RUC wants to resist the cuts.That means taking to the streets, taking non-violent direct action where possible and generally embarrassing the politicians who say they are against the cuts but then don’t stop them going through Stormont. Thursday is the start of our campaign of street activity against the unjust cuts being implemented by Stormont and Westminster.”
A further protest against cuts to the Housing Benefit system has also been planned for Thursday September 27.