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North West Action Plan On Poverty Needed

25 February, 2007

Sinn Féin Foyle Assembly election candidate Martina Anderson, speaking after attending the NICVA consultation event regarding on Anti-Poverty Strategy held at Clooney Hall in Derry has called for a North West Plan to tackle and eradicate Poverty.

Ms Anderson said:

"While some government departments pay lip service to the concepts of social exclusion and marginalisation within the North of Ireland others continue their relentless pressure upon the vulnerable through the unjust and unwanted increases in rates in tandem with the imposition of a water tax on all households.

"Many independent studies have found that the elderly and lone parents are the two groups most at risk of poverty in such circumstances. It is known that the combination of escalating energy costs, the majority of which are composed of state taxes, and that people living in the North West are hit hardest with all of that. It will result in increased deaths from hypothermia during the coming winter and of children going hungry so that parents can meet their exorbitant utility bills.

"To counteract these findings there needs to be a properly funded North West Action Plan lead by a ministerial forum involving groups from across the sector which monitors who will carry out the implementation of that action plan.

"The crocodile tears that Direct rule ministers no doubt will shed in such circumstances that have been highlighted, are as real as the 'peace dividend' which now seems to consist of higher gas and electricity prices, higher accommodation costs and a tax on water.

"While it might seem fair that everyone pays their way the fact that wages are more that 15% lower than elsewhere and that house prices have soared are lost on these disciples of New Labour.

"Zero accountability results in zero responsibility for the part-time absentee ministers whose outlook is on a par with the Famine Queen Victoria's concern for the poor in Ireland. The government's cruel role is further compounded by their increase in VAT receipts as energy prices rise.

"The bottom line is that the shareholders of these utilities never lose out when unexpected costs arise but that consumers such as lone parents and the elderly never benefit when savings are made. Government anti-poverty strategies demonstrate only that talk is cheap, it is about the only thing in the North of Ireland that is today." ENDS

Note to Editors

Bairbre de Brún MEP will be launching Sinn Féin's North West Charter that deals with many of these issues at the Sinn Féin Foyle Constituency Office at Ráth Mór Business Park on Monday.

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