A meeting will be held in Derry tonight to mobilise support for this weekend’s mass protest rally in Belfast against welfare cuts.
Tonight’s meeting is organised by ‘Resist Unjust Cuts’ and speakers include Jackie Gallagher, head of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Derry and the campaigner and social policy lecturer Goretti Horgan, as well as trades union representatives.
The meeting will take place at the offices of leading trade union Unison at the junction of Clarendon Street/Queen Street at 7.30pm.
“One of the main purposes of the meeting will be to sign people up to go to Belfast on Saturday, October 20 for the ICTU march,” a Resist Unjust Cuts spokesperson said.
“This could turn out to be the biggest rally of its sort in the north for many years. The only chance we have of resisting the cuts to benefits is through mass pressure.
“The marches organised by the unions in London, Glasgow and Belfast next Saturday give us the chance to do just that. We need to ensure that there’s a solid turn-out from Derry on the Belfast march.
“Buses are being laid on by the trades unions. We need to fill them with people from across the city - trades unionists, community activists and people from the groups which will be hardest hit by the so-called reforms.”
Under welfare reform plans, debated and passed by MLAs in Stormont last week, six benefits, including housing benefit, would be brought together in a single, monthly Universal Credit payment. Disability Living Allowance (DLA) would also be made defunct and replaced with a personal independence payment.
Anne Donnelly, regional convenor for march organisers Unison says the march gives people the chance to voice their oppostion to “so called “austerity.”
“Our members and their families, whether working in health, education, housing or in the community are suffering. Essential services are facing closure. Dedicated staff are suffering redundancies and cuts in hours. The most vulnerable in our society are facing benefit cuts – the like of which we have never seen before.” Unison is providing free transport to Belfast for Saturday’s march.
(See advert below for details).