MLA candidate Cllr Cadogan Enright is urging older members of the community in the South Down to get involved with the local pensioners’ ‘parliament’ to take place in Newry on April 13.

The forum has been established in Northern Ireland to highlight the concerns of the elderly and members will be elected from regional assemblies, with the two-day parliament being held on June 8 and 9.

Nearly 500 people have attended seven regional meetings during March and April organised by Age Sector Platform. Issues such as services for the elderly are expected to be discussed during the first gathering of its kind in Northern Ireland for those aged over 60.

Cadogan Enright said: “Older people need to have their voices heard and their issues prioritised. Budget cuts are affecting older members of our society in all aspects of their lives.

“Fuel poverty in the face of rising fossil fuel prices, access to health and social care and worry over income are causing older members of our society real hardship and worry.

“Recently, Age NI has highlighted the fact that the gap has widened between costs for those later in life and the general population because of low mortgage rates and the increased cost of heating oil and food. Since last September, every household has incurred an extra £30 a month in their living costs due to rising prices and the elderly are particularly hit.” Said Cllr Enright

Cadogan Enright said: “MLA’s need to be aware that the gap between those aged over 55 and the general population was produced because older people are less likely to benefit from low mortgage rates as they are less likely to carry housing debts. Rapidly rising expense for heating oil and food affects older people because they spend proportionately more on it.

“The local pensioners’ parliament is the perfect opportunity for older people to air their views and concerns and this will hopefully go to influence policy at an Assembly level . If you cannot attend in person, Age Sector Platform would still like to hear your views and will include them in the report they are compiling after the events which will go to all local politicians.” Concluded South Down MLA candidate Cadogan Enright.