A number of community/voluntary organisations have voiced their concerns about the effects of austerity in Northern Ireland to the UN rapporteur Philip Alston during his recent visit to Belfast as part of his fact-finding mission into the levels of poverty in the UK.
Mary McManus, manager of the East Belfast Independent Advice Centre, said: “We refer people on a daily basis to food banks. We have families coming in to us who have no food and no heat.”
Kevin Higgins from Advice NI appealed to the UN rapporteur to include in his report that the welfare mitigations package in Northern Ireland should be extended beyond 2020 when it is due to end.
Anne Moore from Save the Children said: “Many families have voiced their concerns to us about the huge impact of welfare cuts.”
Alex Tennant, head of Policy and Participation at the NI Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY), said that poverty in Northern Ireland “has had a huge impact on children’s rights”.
VIEW editor Brian Pelan revealed to Mr Alston the shocking impact of austerity which was revealed in VIEW’s recent issue Stories from the Frontline (http://viewdigital.org/2018/07/31/latest-issue-of-view-stories-from-the-frontline/).
A copy of VIEW’s austerity issue was presented to Mr Alston.
The issue of the lack of abortion rights for women in Northern Ireland was also raised with the UN rapporteur
Emma Campbell from the Alliance for Choice, which campaigns for abortion rights for woman in Northern Ireland, spoke about the recent case of the mother who is being prosecuted after she bought abortion medication for her daughter.
Judgment has been reserved in a judicial review brought by the mother who could face up to a five-year jail term if convicted.
Lawyers for the mother and daughter, who have been granted anonymity, have argued the PPS decision to bring criminal charges breaches their human rights.
UN envoy Philip Alston will share his preliminary observations and recommendations at a press conference to be held at the end of his mission on November 16 in London.