Shaun Harkin urges parties to support Winter Fuel Poverty motion

People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin has urged Executive parties to support Gerry Carroll’s recall motion calling for action on Winter Fuel Poverty which requires 30 signatures to be debated by the Stormont Assembly.

Shaun Harkin
Shaun Harkin

Addressing Derry City and Strabane’s virtual full council, ​​Councillor Harkin said: “Right now many, many people are thrust into financial uncertainty.

“The rising energy costs have meant many people are not in the position to choose between heat and eat and are in a situation where they aren’t going to be able to do either.

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“As everybody knows they cut Universal Credit, a whole host of rising prices and costs and the poverty pay that so many people face means that this Christmas and this winter is going to be extremely challenging.

“I was part of a group organising a hardship crisis protest at Stormont this week and I’m glad to say it was supported by trade unions, anti-poverty campaigners, student campaigners as well.

"That protest has demanded that Stormont does not go on recess until it has met to discuss actions that can be taken to protect people right now before we have tragic situations develop because of people’s inability to keep the heat on.

“This can’t be put on the long finger. A task force will not pay the bills for anybody. I think I’m stating the obvious when I say a lot of people in our city and district and across the North are struggling and will struggle throughout Christmas and the holiday period.

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“I think it is disgraceful the Stormont Assembly was shut down before it will discuss actions to protect people like extending and expanding the Winter Fuel Payment Scheme and there’s a whole host of measures which can be taken.

“I am going to urge parties here who have representatives in Stormont, to ask their MLAs to sign on to Gerry Carroll’s emergency motion. If 30 MLAs sign the motion there can be a sitting of the Assembly and then they can discuss these measures before Christmas.

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“From what I’m told there are already some parties already showing an interest in doing that. It would send a message out that the Assembly isn’t going to turn its back on ordinary people as they struggle over the coming months.”