Cookstown hosts Pensioners’ Parliament

Local politicians Ian McCrea MLA (DUP), Patsy McGlone MLA (SDLP) and Sandra Overend MLA (UUP) respond to questions at the County Tyrone Pensioners Parliament.
Local politicians Ian McCrea MLA (DUP), Patsy McGlone MLA (SDLP) and Sandra Overend MLA (UUP) respond to questions at the County Tyrone Pensioners Parliament.

AROUND 50 older people from across County Tyrone gathered in the Glenavon House Hotel in Cookstown last week for the highly anticipated County Tyrone Pensioners’’ Parliament.

All eager to make their voices heard on the problems they face at present, the Tyrone pensioners’ in attendance discussed and voted on issues such as energy prices, health and social care, community safety and transport.

The 2012 Northern Ireland Pensioners’’ Parliament also offered pensioners’ the opportunity to question local politicians – a brand new feature of the parliaments this year.

The Northern Ireland Pensioners’’ Parliament was launched last year by Age Sector Platform; and the older people’s charity says it is expecting 2012 to be even bigger and better. The County Tyrone Parliament was the seventh and final local parliament; the previous six having taken place in other counties during the last six weeks - ensuring that older people from across the province are given the platform to make their voice heard.

Patricia Donald, Chair of Age Sector Platform, said: “This has been a great opportunity for older people from across County Tyrone to make their voice heard. The parliaments held across Northern Ireland have been actively encouraging older people from every county to tell us about their issues of concern. “This year, for the first time, they also have had the opportunity to address politicians from their local area; thereby ensuring their representatives at Stormont cannot but be aware of the major problems facing older people in their area.

“We know that this process does have an impact. The 2011 Northern Ireland Pensioners’ Parliament resulted in several significant commitments by the Northern Ireland Executive over the last few months in relation to older people; whilst our MPs have also taken strong action at Westminster based on the findings of the 2011 Parliament. We hope 2012 can be even more successful with the support of older people across Northern Ireland.

“Since the beginning of 2012 we have been asking pensioners’ across Northern Ireland, through our survey, what the main problems are for them at this time. “Already we have seen the top issues from 2011 re-appear; issues such as energy prices, fear of crime, food prices and access to health and social care. “Through the local parliaments we have explored these issues in more depth; whilst emphasising the fact that they have remained a top concern two years in a row with politicians and service providers.”

More information can be found at www.pensionersparliament.org.