Day of Action to demand end to Welfare Reform

People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin.
People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin.

A Day of Action calling for Welfare Reforms to be scrapped and an end to cuts will be held in Derry on the anniversary of the historic 1968 October 5 Civil Rights march.

The Day of Action was organised following calls from campaigners attending a recent event hosted by Derry and Strabane Council in the Guildhall Main Hall on ‘Undoing the damage of Welfare Reforms’.

The meeting heard from advice workers, community activists, trade unionists, food bank workers and many others about the impacts of Welfare Reform.

It followed on from a motion passed earlier this summer committing the Council to working to address the impact of welfare reforms in Derry.

Speakers representing the Norther Ireland Housing Executive, the Derry Trades Union Council, Strabane Food Bank and Advice North West described welfare reforms as having had a ‘disastrous’ impact on people living within the Council area.

If mitigations are allowed to expire at the end of March next year the damage will mushroom, they warned.

This will also be the case if the full roll-out of Universal Credit is allowed to commence, they have warned.

The Day of Action is backed by the Derry Trades Union Council, Action Against Cuts, the Civil Rights for the 21st Century Committee, UNISON Community Branch, women’s rights organisations and others.

Speaking ahead of the mass rally, People Before Profit Derry and Strabane Councillor Shaun Harkin said: “Welfare cuts, alongside cuts to education and the health service, rising energy costs and a raft of factors impoverishing deprived areas really are a recipe to rip apart the already fraying fabric of our society.

“Often the damage is invisible because the people impacted are the most vulnerable in our society.

“Ordinary people from all backgrounds know they’ll get no help from Johnson’s Tory government or from the mothballed Assembly - but there are many things that can be done to undo the damage inflicted by Westminster and Stormont.

“Out of the Guildhall meeting the Council has a list of proposals for action to work with. We will be working with others to make sure that happens.”

Colr. Harkin added; “These local efforts are part of an overall effort to see policies like the Bedroom Tax scrapped and replaced with something that actually helps people here.

“For change to happen we need people to mobilise in large numbers.

“We need to be on the streets to show there is growing opposition to the impact of welfare reforms and cuts.”

Speaking about the significance of the date chosen, he added: “The choice of the day is very important. October 5 1968 in Derry was a rising for Civil Rights and economic justice. We need to rise up again to challenge the poverty and growing inequality afflicting all working communities here. People power is the crucial factor in winning change today.

“We urge people from all backgrounds to support the Day of Action on October 5.”