Derry woman attends London rally

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A partially sighted woman from Derry was among thousands who marched through central London last week to oppose “disastrous” public spending cuts.

Siobhan Rafferty is warning against government plans to slash up to £18 billion from welfare spending.

Ms. Rafferty agrees that the cuts could deprive thousands of their entitlement to help with vital homecare and transport and force others to undergo flawed medical assessment that don’t adequately recognise the barriers people with sight loss experience.

She says: “Everyone, including able-bodied people, are finding it hard enough as it is. If they’re going to cut access to vital benefits and services even more, then surely people will lose out and find themselves in serious difficulty.”

She added: “I went on the march because this issue directly affect me. If you don’t go and have your say, how can you complain about it afterwards?”

More than 8,000 converged on the Houses of Parliament before lobbying their MPs - among them Foyle MP Mark Durkan, one of only 22 MPS to vote against the second reading of the Welfare Reform Bill.

Mark Durkan says the government’s plans are “deeply concerning” - not least the targeted cut of 20% to the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which, he says, will affect thousands of people in Derry currently in receipt of the benefit.

“I am calling on the government to abandon plans to remove the mobility component of DLA from people in residential care homes,” he said. “I am also calling for the automatic entitlement for people who have severe impairments to be retained, meaning that blind people, the mentally impaired and double amputees will not have to face the distress of applying for support that they genuinely need.”