‘Ordinary people are struggling to survive’

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A former Derry community worker has said politicians must put their own parties second to the pressing needs of people trying to survive dire poverty in Derry and elsewhere.

Frankie McMenamin said it was shameful that £15m had been paid out in wages to MLAs since the collapse of Stormont.

“While the people of Derry, Belfast and elsewhere are struggling to survive on low paid jobs and zero hours contracts or unemployed, our politicians are becoming fat cats while at the same time claiming to be ordinary, working class people,” he claimed.

Mr McMenamin said that he, like many others, was concerned that as such, politicians and parties were losing touch with people they were elected to represent.

“I think the feeling from the community is that people feel let down. People are struggling here and it is coming up to Christmas and many of them will be sitting in luxury while people here are struggling to make ends meet. “

Mr McMenamin said that one of the outworkings of this was young people existing in hopelessness, with little chance of securing a future.

He added that in some cases there was real danger that this was contributing to young people becoming embroiled in paramiltarism.

“Some of them are going to be the ones joining paramilitary groups because they don’t see a future,” Mr McMenamin said. “Most of the jobs here have no future,” he added, pointing to lack of job security and low wages which he said many people were forced to endure.

“Coming up to Christmas you can see it on people’s faces. People are struggling and feel let down,” he repeated.

Mr McMenamin said the sharp increase in people being forced to rely on donations from foodbanks and charities painted a clear picture of the stark reality faced by many local people, and not just those who are out of work but also those in low-paid employment.