Older people have their say on issues of the day at Mossley Mill ‘parliament’

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Thomas Hogg, with Antrim and Newtownabbey pensioners Joan Ferguson and JP Ventura and Chair of Age Sector Platform, Anne Watson. INNT 08-808CON
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Thomas Hogg, with Antrim and Newtownabbey pensioners Joan Ferguson and JP Ventura and Chair of Age Sector Platform, Anne Watson. INNT 08-808CON

Around 100 older people joined with elected representatives at Mossley Mill for the first Pensioners’ Parliament to be held in Newtownabbey.

The parliament, which was organised by Age Sector Platform and supported by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, was held on Friday, February 19.

The Mossley event was the first of eleven local parliaments to be held across Northern Ireland, with the rest scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

It featured interactive voting, discussion and question and answer sessions with panels of local councillors and MLAs.

Councillors answering questions on the day included Cllr John Blair (Alliance), Cllr Phillip Brett (DUP), Ald Mark Cosgrove (UUP), Cllr David Hollis (TUV) and Cllr Roisin Lynch (SDLP).

The MLAs that took part included Adrian Cochrane-Watson MLA (UUP), David Ford MLA (Alliance) and Paul Girvan MLA (DUP).

Anne Watson, Chair of Age Sector Platform, commented: “I’m delighted there was such a strong interest from older people in this council area to attend their parliament, as it gave us the chance to make sure our politicians heard our voice loud and clear.

“For the first time, older people were able to question Councillors on local issues, as well as MLAs on things that are the responsibility of Stormont.”

She added: “This is a crucial year for older people to make their voice heard as we approach the Assembly election in May.

“The Pensioners’ Parliament has not waited for parties to develop their own manifesto; we have created our own.

“I would encourage anyone who couldn’t attend the parliament last week to add your support to the Pensioners’ Parliament manifesto.”

Speaking at the event, Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Thomas Hogg said: “The council is delighted to host and take part in the first of the Pensioners’ Parliaments to be held in the new council areas across Northern Ireland.

“With Community Planning now an integral part of council responsibilities, today provides a perfect opportunity for us to find out what matters to our residents.

“The views expressed today will also help shape the community plans which are part of council’s Corporate Plan from now until 2030.”

A downloadable copy of the Pensioners’ Parliament manifesto can be found at www.agesectorplatform.org or interested parties can call 028 9031 2089 to receive a batch to distribute.