‘Parks and ice creams a luxury for some kids’

Liam Gallagher
Liam Gallagher

Derry and Strabane’s economic inactivity rate of over 30 per cent is a source of real hardship for local families.

That’s according to local trade unionists who have called for more targeted investment in the North West.

Liam Gallagher, from Unite, said recently published figures showing Derry City and Strabane’s inactivity rate last year (34.1%) was 14.2 percentage points above the lowest rate - Antrim and Newtownabbey (19.9%) - were damning.

“Little has changed for the depressing numbers of those listed as unemployed and those listed as economically inactive.

"Behind every one of those figures is a person and a family who often struggle to make ends meet, particularly at this time of year when hard-pressed parents try their best to get their children ready for another school term.

“For them life is hard. Many children in this city have never experienced a holiday and for them, a trip to a park and an ice cream is a luxury. Increasing numbers are using food banks and relying on relatives to get by.

"Even those lucky enough to have a job rely on two incomes to survive with many employed on low paid fixed-term contracts or on zero-hours contracts,” he said.

Mr. Gallagher prescribed a tailored investment package.

“Areas like Derry need major investment to bring us to the economic growth levels of Belfast, Cork or Dublin,” he said.

Niall McCarroll, chair of the Derry Trades Union Council, said: “DTUC recently informed the Low Pay Commission when they visited Derry that 30 per cent of all workers in the North earn below the Real Living Wage of £9 an hour.

“Gaining employment should improve life chances and open up opportunities such as being able to afford a holiday, make some home improvements or indeed buying a new coat, but rather, significant numbers of workers find only a life of work, paying bills, with nothing gained, the only gains being made by bosses who offer precarious employment with no security.”