Pensioners’ Parliament Debate in Senate Chamber
Older people from across Northern Ireland became parliamentarians in November 2011 as they tabled motions and passionately debated issues of concern to them and their peers with Ministers from the NI Executive. The event, held in the Senate Chamber at Parliament Buildings, was chaired by the Speaker, Mr William Hay MLA and saw over seventy older people from across Northern Ireland experience the reality of an Assembly debate.
The older people (no strangers to parliamentary business having taken part in the
Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament earlier in the year) presented three motions to the Ministers present. The three motions, passed at the NI Pensioners Parliament in June, ranged from fuel poverty to fear of crime and health and social care – all areas of responsibility held by the NI Executive. After each motion was tabled, Members of the Pensioners Parliament received an official response from local Ministers on the three issues.
Age Sector Platform, the charity responsible for the NI Pensioners' Parliament, says the debate at the Assembly represents a positive commitment to address the issues raised by pensioners across the province.
Michael Monaghan of Age Sector Platform said: "We are delighted that the voices of older people from across the province could be heard loud and clear by Executive Ministers here at the heart of government. The Northern Ireland Pensioners
Parliament was a truly democratic process, with older people from every county in Northern Ireland voting on the issues of particular concern to them. This follow-on debate was a fantastic example of how our Assembly can engage with members of the public, and we hope that the Ministers who were present take seriously the issues raised."
Reflecting on the debate the Speaker said: "I have made it a priority that Parliament
Buildings should be opened up more to the people it represents, and as the seat of democracy in Northern Ireland, I was delighted to host this debate of the Pensioners Parliament. It has been run in the same way as an Assembly debate with an official report provided by Hansard so the Pensioners Parliament will see just exactly how our system works and how they can influence it."
The 2012 Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament has already begun with local parliaments in each county currently taking place. Find out more at www.pensionersparliament.org