Derry & Strabane Council backs mass Cost of Living crisis march on Stormont

Derry City and Strabane Council is backing and urging support for the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions mass march on Stormont on Saturday, June 25.

They are demanding that Stormont take immediate action to tackle the cost of living crisis and take the necessary measures to ensure the money in the hardship fund is immediately utilised to help those struggling.

The motion, brought forward by People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin was unanimously supported with SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell calling for the DUP to ‘grow up’ and go back into Stormont to enable the release of the £435million set aside to help households with the cost of living rises.

Raising the issue, Councillor Harkin said: “We all welcomed the fact that Rishi Sunak, the Westminster Chancellor was forced into a bit of a u-turn in windfall taxes  but none of these measures go anywhere far enough to address the scale of the crisis. 

Local people at a previous anti-fuel poverty rally in Derry.

“It’s also welcome that we are finding out that some of the funding through Westminster will be making its way to those who desperately need it here. 

“Clearly it’s not enough and there’s many, many people especially workers who aren’t seeing any help at all and who are falling into poverty and going to food banks and that’s why we are seeing these massive cost of living protests organised and that’s why we are going to see a very, very angry march on Stormont and rightly so.”

Supporting the proposal, Aontú Councillor Emmet Doyle added: “The support that Stormont has in its power when the DUP decides to go back to work has to be utilised for everybody in our community. 

“What I’m finding more and more is people who are on benefits for example are getting a certain level of support from public bodies which is right but there are so many more working families and working individuals who are now struggling more and more every single week.

“I’m finding when I go to visit people in my own DEA and further afield that the bank of mum and dad, where people have the opportunity to do that, is getting hit every week because there is a gap in people’s incomes that is getting bigger and bigger every single week. Those who are working cannot meet the costs of fuel and food and energy.

“There has to be that emphasis that this support has to be for absolutely everybody because there is no one untouched unless you are Rishi Sunak and his family and their cronies in London.”

Calling for the DUP to ‘grow up’ and return to Stormont, SDLP Rory Farrell said: “The Tories introduced this cost of living payment of £650 if you are on Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income Support, ESA, JSA,  £150 if you are on DLA, Attendance Allowance, PIP and £650 in a few months time if you are on Working Tax Credits or Child Tax credit. But there are vast swathes of society that are earning slightly above the threshold and don’t get a  penny in support.

“What they have introduced in Britain is a £400 universal payment to support energy bills and lo and behold that can’t be delivered here because we don’t have a government and we don’t have a government because the DUP cannot accept that they are going to play second fiddle to a Nationalist. 

“They say it’s about the Protocol but we know…. so I think the DUP need to grow up because people are suffering and people who are paying taxes on a daily and weekly basis that never get a penny in support won’t get a penny in support until the DUP grow up and go back into government.

“We have £435M in Stormont, we don’t know what we are going to do with it. I’m talking about £400 for each family, here’s £435M that needs to be spent and go into people’s pockets but it’s going nowhere, it’s gathering dust in Stormont and that needs to change.”

Gillian Anderson , Local Democracy Reporting Service