Selflessness of people praised by Derry’s MP Colum Eastwood in New Year message

DERRY’S MP Colum Eastwood MP has said that 2022 must be a year of defining change for people and politics here as he paid tribute to all those who have taken action to keep each other safe over the past 12 months.

Reflecting on another challenging year for communities, businesses and public services, the SDLP Leader said: “This has been another incredibly difficult year for people across all of our communities. This terrible pandemic has taken the lives of more of our friends and family and has reduced the life opportunities of so many more. I know how difficult the last 12 months have been and how much people have sacrificed over the last two years.

“In spite of the massive challenges we face, I have been inspired by the response of our communities to this virus. To everyone who stood in line for hours to get their vaccine, to the thousands of volunteers who stepped forward to help support the vaccination programme and the health service workers pushing themselves and their teams as far as they can to keep people safe - I want to sincerely thank you all for what you have done for us.

“This time last year we were in a very difficult place. The selfless efforts of people across our community have prevented further turmoil and tragedy. And while we are now facing a new threat with the Omicron variant, I have every faith that people will rise to the challenge again. Protecting our neighbours, insulating our economy, securing the jobs of friends and family - those must be our clear objectives in the weeks ahead.”

Foyle MP, SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood.

Mr Eastwood said there was also another challenge in the year ahead as he criticised the response to the financial pressures facing local people. “The cost of heating your home is through the roof. People already in need of support have seen their universal credit income cut, national insurance contributions are rising. For too many families it is becoming too expensive to get by. In spite of the clear warnings that this emergency was not going away, the Ministers responsible have been found wanting,” he claimed.