Pensioners voice Stormont concerns

70 older people from across the borough attended the Antrim and Newtownabbey Pensioners Parliament in Mossley Mill.
70 older people from across the borough attended the Antrim and Newtownabbey Pensioners Parliament in Mossley Mill.

The Antrim and Newtownabbey Pensioners Parliament took place on April 20, with around 70 older people from the borough taking part.

The parliament, organised by Age Sector Platform and supported by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, was held in Mossley Mill and was officially opened by Cllr Anne Marie Logue, Chair of the council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee.

The parliament was the fourth of eleven local parliaments taking place across the province in the coming months, with one being held in each council area in Northern Ireland.

The parliament featured interactive voting, discussion and Q&A with panels of local councillors, MLAs and policy experts.

Councillors answering questions on the day included Ald Mark Cosgrove (UUP), Ald William DeCourcy (DUP), Cllr Michael Goodman (Sinn Féin), Cllr Noreen McClelland (SDLP) and South Antrim MLA David Ford (Alliance) on behalf of Cllr Billy Webb.

During the afternoon, questions from the floor were directed at an ‘expert panel’ made up of MLAs Pam Cameron and Declan Kearney, alongside Melanie Phillips from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Mark Crawford from the Consumer Council and Inspector Patrick Mullan from the PSNI.

Anne Watson from Age Sector Platform said: “This has been a great opportunity for local older people to make their voice heard; and they have been very vocal.

“The issues concerning older people in this area the most are access to health and social care and transport. With the Northern Ireland Assembly having primary responsible for these issues, it’s no surprise that more than two out of three older people in attendance believed their quality of life had suffered as a result of the Assembly’s collapse.”