Pensioners Parliament at Drumalis demands answers on tough questions

Around 70 older people from across Co Antrim gathered in Larne’s Drumalis Centre for the fifth of seven Pensioners Parliaments around the province.

Attendees raised a number of concerns including community policing, energy prices, pensioner benefits and health and social care provision.

The event was officially opened by Councillor Maureen Morrow, Mayor of Larne borough.

The 2014 Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, which was launched in Belfast in February, also offers pensioners the opportunity to put their questions to local politicians.

The County Antrim Parliament saw UUP MLA Roy Beggs, Paul Girvan MLA (DUP), SDLP MLA Fearghal McKinney, Oliver McMullan MLA (Sinn Féin) and Cllr Noel Williams from the Alliance Party responding to questions from the floor.

Anne Watson from Age Sector Platform said: “This has been a great opportunity for older people from across Co Antrim to make their voice heard and they have been very vocal as always!

“The issues which sparked the most passionate debate were energy prices and pensioner benefits.

“Older people from this county are concerned about the increasing cost of fuel and suggestions from Westminster that benefits such as the Winter Fuel Allowance should be means-tested.

“Those in attendance rightfully demanded answers from the politicians present on how the NI Executive plans to reduce the high levels of fuel poverty here.

“Age Sector Platform is currently taking the lead in Northern Ireland on a UK wide campaign called ‘Hands Off’, which is defending the needs for universal pensioner benefits like the Winter Fuel Allowance and Bus Pass,” Anne Watson added.

“We hope that the political panel and the main political parties represented at the Pensioners Parliament will look carefully at these issues, and use whatever means necessary to address what they can in the Assembly.”

The two remaining Parliaments, due to take place in the coming weeks, will be held in Magherafelt and Omagh; with previous events held in Belfast, Enniskillen, Newry and Craigavon providing a platform for older people to make their voice heard in every county.

More information about the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament can be found at

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