Hundreds attend ‘Can’t Heat or Eat’ rally PDF Print E-mail

Monday 17 November 2008




Hundreds of older people from across Northern Ireland assembled outside Stormont today for the long awaited, and much talked about ‘Can’t Heat or Eat’ rally, in response to the increased cost of living. 

The public rally was organised by Age Sector Platform, Help the Aged in Northern Ireland and Age Concern NI and allowed older people from across Northern Ireland to come out in force to make their voice heard on the issue.  The rally also allowed older people to demonstrate their support for the ‘Can’t Heat or Eat’ campaign to ensure that Government take immediate action to help older people, in particular over the most difficult winter months.  Numerous political representatives were present at the event, showing their support for the campaign.


Bill Carson, Chair of Age Sector Platform, speaking at the rally said: “We are all gathered here today to express our concerns about the crisis facing older people this winter due to the increased cost of living.  More and more older people will not be able to heat themselves or eat properly in the coming months unless urgent action is taken.  With pensioner inflation reaching 7.4% in the last few months - that’s its highest in seventeen years - it is no surprise that older people are struggling.” 

Mr Carson continued “We have literally come to the doorstep of Government today so that our politicians can hear our concerns and solutions loud and clear.  The number of people who have traveled from far and wide to stand in the cold today shows how important this issue is.”

As part of the ‘Can’t Heat or Eat’ campaign and rally, older people at the rally spoke to political representatives from all the main political parties and demanded that Government should act now to help them this winter.  These demands included that Government establish the link between the state pension and average earnings immediately, increase the winter fuel payment to £500 and ensure that pension credit is automatically paid for a period of three months.  They will also demanded that benefits for older people should be promoted, social tariffs should be introduced for older people and that an emergency trust fund should be established this winter.

Seamus Lynch, Public Affairs Officer at Help the Aged in Northern Ireland, explained: “These calls for action have been conveyed clearly by older people across Northern Ireland, through our consultation with them.  As a result, they have been added to a campaign postcard for older people to sign and return to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.  This represents yet another channel for older people to campaign on this issue. 

Mr Lynch continued: “Older people who are unable were unable to attend the rally can still make their voice heard through this postcard campaign to OFMDFM.  If you would like a postcard, please call in to your local Age Concern NI or Help the Aged shop, or phone Age Sector Platform on 028 9031 2089.”



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