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Author: Age Sector Platform
Published on 22 May 2012 10:00 AM

After a year of controversial announcements focused on older people, the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament is again set to take place in Belfast today with over 200 older people from across Northern Ireland expected to be in attendance.

The Parliament, organised by older people’s charity Age Sector Platform, is expected to include some heated discussions on the Compton health review, crimes against older people and free travel; with issues such as ‘granny tax’ and pension reform also expected to take centre stage. 
 
Over the two days of the Parliament, the Holiday Inn Hotel in Belfast will become a hub for democratic decision making as Members of the Pensioners Parliament (MPPs) vote on issues such as pensions, the rising cost of living, fear of crime, health and social care and transport.  Twenty five motions are expected to be put forward with only those receiving more than two thirds support from MPPs being formally passed by the Parliament.
 
A series of high profile speakers will take part in the Parliament over the two days.  Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell MLA and Martina Anderson MLA will respond to questions on the Programme for Government; and Claire Keatinge, the very first Commissioner for Older People, will address the Parliament and answer questions from the floor in regards to her office and work so far.  During a special Westminster session, Shadow Secretary of State, Vernon Coaker MP will speak; with a panel of politicians from each of the main Northern Ireland political parties on hand to answer questions from the floor.
 
The Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament was launched last year as truly bottom-up and democratic approach to identifying the main concerns of the older population; and the organisers have been keen to emphasise the achievements of the Parliament since then. 
 
Michael Monaghan from Age Sector Platform commented: “Since the Pensioners Parliament last year, we have worked tirelessly to ensure the motions passed have been taken seriously by our politicians and service providers.  In November 2011, seventy older people gathered in the Senate Chamber in Parliament Buildings to present several of the motions to Government Ministers; whilst a delegation of older people also travelled to Westminster to meet with Pensions Minister Steve Webb and a cross party group of Northern Ireland MPs.  We believe this two-fold approach to our campaigning was instrumental in achieving the £10 million fuel payment package for low income pensioners in Northern Ireland, announced in December 2011.”
 
“We are also very pleased that a number of motions from last year’s parliament made it into the NI Executive’s Programme for Government; and are keen to hear more from the Junior Ministers during the Parliament in relation to how these commitments will be implemented over the coming years.”
 
“The Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament has achieved a lot in a short time; and we hope that the motions from this year’s parliament will be taken as seriously by our decision makers.  We are aware that a lot more needs to be achieved and, more than ever, the voice of older people needs to be heard far and wide.”
 
For more information on the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, visit www.pensionersparliament.org or phone 028 9031 2089.

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