Christmas is a time of unnecessary suffering for families
There is a hidden poverty in west Belfast that means Christmas will be a time of crisis and unnecessary suffering for many local families.
I recently met with staff and volunteers at the Cupar Street Food Bank in west Belfast which so far this year distributed 478 emergency three-day food parcels and expects to double that number in the run-up to Christmas.
People might have heard of food banks but I don’t think they fully understand what people are having to live through every single day.
Before the introduction of austerity measures, used to bail out the banks and protect the rich and wealthy, food banks were virtually unknown. Today they are an essential lifeline for thousands of families and
local children. The latest report on poverty from the Joseph Rowntree Trust shows a steady rise in the number of families and children living below the poverty line.
The first food bank opened in Northern Ireland in early 2012.
There are now more than 20, with more being planned to meet the increasing need.
What is particularly disturbing is that more and more people with jobs are having to rely on food banks because of rising prices and low wages. Single parents make up an increasing number of those in dire need.
None of this is necessary. It is the result of a number of vicious political decisions. Poverty and a reliance on food banks can be eliminated by well paid, secure employment, increased tax credits and more help with housing.
That raises serious questions about the role of locally elected politicians over the years. I make no apology for saying, and saying again, that west Belfast has the highest levels of child poverty in Northern Ireland. But poverty is not just about food, it is about the impact it has on young people for the rest of their lives.
But where are the new jobs in west Belfast? Where is the pressure for a better benefits system? Where is the practical support that thousands of local people are crying out for?
This poverty crisis has escalated in recent years and it will bring a very grim Christmas for many local families. While all of this has been happening, what have our elected representatives been doing? This is happening on their watch. There is talk – but no action. That will bring no comfort to those facing a dismal and depressing Christmas.
Workers Party, West Belfast
Stop the lecturing on matters we don’t think about
Is David Attenborough the new Al Gore, whose every word we are expected to take as gospel truth?
Look, the human race has already passed its sell-by date for survival on planet Earth.
We are estimated to have made double figures in the living stakes, as most other species (apart from some reptiles)only stay safe for about 200,000 years before they shuffle off to extinction.
We are doing better than most, so take heart and every breath allocated.
Our world is going to continue for another four billion years at least, they tell us – with or without us.
Natural evolution will see many changes to our globe before then, and it will have nothing to do with what humans were doing in the preceding few billion because humans will be long gone by then, through nature’s habit of natural selection.
Give over with the glib arrogance that climate change is down to men and women who today are just going with the flow and coping as best they can. It is always those with more time and wealth we are told to listen to... egged on by dubious science claims that all is lost, because they say so.
People are responsible good citizens of this world who concentrate on getting ourselves from the cradle to the grave with a decent life span in between.
We are not concerned by high-faluting nonsense about there being matters more important than our individual lives which are very full with our real concerns in our short time here.
Bantry, Co Cork
I refer to the climate conference that took place in Poland last week. One could not help sense the frustrations from such eminent speakers as David Attenborough and the UN general secretary. I personally was upset that the world I am living in and that my children and hopefully grandchildren will inherit is becoming so radically changed from what I and so many generations before my have enjoyed.
Yet a major question must be asked how do we change what is happening when if one considers the various trade agreements between the EU and Japan, Canada and no doubt soon with the US? A major part of these trade agreements is the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The most classic example of how this works is that the German government wants to be rid of nuclear stations after the nuclear disasters in Japan 2011 and that some companies have taken the Germany state to court using the ISDS, claiming loss of earnings, profits, etc. There are many others examples.
Could someone in government convey how to resolve this.
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
And so it is becoming clearer – those who make and sell goods and services are looking forward to that degree of certainty and stability to which the Brexiteers are opposed. The battle is between ideology and prosperity, between the blinkered unexplained goals of a section of the political class and the jobs and hopes of ordinary people. The Brexiteers sound more and more like frustrated bullies. Let us all hope that we do not succumb to their tactics.
Downpatrick, Co Down
Politicians who vote to legalise abortion commit what St Pope John Paul II described as ‘an unspeakable evil’. They also share responsibility for the death of every child under that law.
It is now strange that child abuse is declared a great evil – and it most certainly is – yet abortion is declared to be a right. Soon there will be absolute freedom of choice in the Republic for women who want abortion but no freedom for doctors and nurses who are conscientious objectors.
Many rejoice at this so-called freedom and do not see they are being slowly ushered into a totalitarian state.
Dr OWEN GALLAGHER
Glenavy, Co Antrim
Britain once accused Hitler of stealing and plundering the wealth of European countries but now the same accusations are being focused on mighty Britain. The British Museum, which is loaded with the world’s stolen treasures, are now being asked to please return them to their rightful owners but there is a ‘twist in the tail’. They are only willing to ‘lend’ them back. Even Hitler wouldn’t have made such an insulting remark.
Lurgan, Co Armagh