Pensioners pull no punches over Stormont collapse

The Deputy Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Cllr Cheryl Johnston, at the Pensioners Parliament with Vijay Sethi and Matthew McPeake from Ballymena, Caroline McKeown from Carrickfergus and Bea Martin from Islandmagee.
The Deputy Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Cllr Cheryl Johnston, at the Pensioners Parliament with Vijay Sethi and Matthew McPeake from Ballymena, Caroline McKeown from Carrickfergus and Bea Martin from Islandmagee.

Older people in Mid and East Antrim have fired a broadside across the bow of political parties over the impact of Stormont’s collapse on their quality of life.

The Mid and East Antrim Pensioners Parliament took place at the Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena, with around 60 attendees from the borough.

Answering questions from the floor, from left, are: SDLP Cllr Declan O'Loan,  Alliance Ald Gerardine Mulvenna, DUP Cllr Beth Adsger, DUP Ald Tommy Nicholl, DUP Cllr Cheryl Johnston and UUP Cllr Maureen Morrow.

Answering questions from the floor, from left, are: SDLP Cllr Declan O'Loan, Alliance Ald Gerardine Mulvenna, DUP Cllr Beth Adsger, DUP Ald Tommy Nicholl, DUP Cllr Cheryl Johnston and UUP Cllr Maureen Morrow.

Organised by Age Sector Platform and supported by MEA Council, it featured interactive voting, discussion and Q&A with panels of councillors, MLAs and policy experts.

Caroline McKeown from Age Sector Platform said: “The issues concerning older people in this area the most are access to health and social care and keeping warm in winter. With the Northern Ireland Assembly having primary responsible for these issues, it’s no surprise that almost three out of five older people in attendance believed their quality of life had suffered as a result of the Assembly’s collapse.”

Key findings from votes during the event:

Almost three out of five (59%) believe the Assembly’s collapse has impacted negatively on their quality of life;

Members of the audience at the Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena.

Members of the audience at the Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena.

Two in five (40%) are more fearful of becoming a victim of crime compared to two years ago;

Nearly three out of four (72%) have seen no improvement in their care as a result of ‘transformation’ within the health service

Two in five (40%) have had to cut back on other essentials (e.g. food) in the last two years to afford the cost of home heating;

⦁More than a third (38%) feels they have been discriminated against because of age in areas like healthcare, financial services, transport or retail.

Questions were directed at a panel of MLAs and 'experts', from left: Terry Butler, Translink, UUP MLA Robin Swann, Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson, Karen Harvey, NHSCTand Lucy Cochrane, NEA NI.

Questions were directed at a panel of MLAs and 'experts', from left: Terry Butler, Translink, UUP MLA Robin Swann, Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson, Karen Harvey, NHSCTand Lucy Cochrane, NEA NI.

The parliament was the seventh of 11 such events taking place across the province in the coming months.