Pensioners’ rights raised by Carrickfergus ‘Parliamentarian’

Caroline McKeown, from Carrick, speaking in the Assembly chamber. INCT 07-701-CON
Caroline McKeown, from Carrick, speaking in the Assembly chamber. INCT 07-701-CON
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A Carrickfergus woman has been lobbying at Stormont on behalf of senior members of the community.

Caroline McKeown was among members of the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament grilling politicians on issues contained in their election manifesto.

“Since 2011, the Pensioners Parliament has engaged with thousands of older people across Northern Ireland and it’s clear there are many bread and butter issues that older people believe the Assembly could address better,” said Caroline.

“There are also real fears that, in times of stretched budgets, older people could fall victim to short-sighted policies that will have a negative impact on their quality of life for years to come.”

Four Executive ministers took part in the special ‘Question Time’ event, with questions covering fuel poverty, age discrimination and health and social care.

Caroline added: “At the ‘Question Time’ event we had the opportunity to direct some pointed questions at ministers on more effective schemes to tackle fuel poverty, plans to end age discrimination, free prescriptions, operation waiting times and home care packages.

“We know the timing of our ‘Question Time’ event means it has the potential to be quite influential. With only three months to go until the Northern Ireland Assembly election, it was the ideal time to highlight our concerns with key ministers, as their parties prepare their campaigns and manifestos for the upcoming election.

“Our goal is to see the calls contained in our manifesto replicated in the manifestos of local political parties, and eventually for these calls to appear in the next Programme for Government.”

For more information on the Pensioners Parliament, visit www.pensionersparliament.org or phone Age Sector Platform on 028 9031 2089.