Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Chilean miners to visit Durham gala

Two of the Chilean miners who were trapped for days are to appear at a gala in Durham

Two of the Chilean miners who survived being trapped underground for more than two months are due to visit a UK miners' gala.

Carlos Barrios Contrera and Carlos Bugueno Alfara are expected to attend the Durham Miners' Gala.

Organisers hope that one of them will speak at the event, which takes place in Durham city centre and is the 127th gala.

Dave Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners' Association, said: "These men came through an incredible episode in their lives very successfully.

"The spirit and the comradeship of the miners underground was typical of miners throughout the world. These men are really something and I'm very pleased that we've got them."

Labour leader Ed Miliband was also due to speak at the gala but has pulled out.

Len McCluskey, leader of trade union Unite, will tell visitors: "The values embodied at the Durham gala of solidarity, community, equality and justice are not museum pieces.

"They have survived the onslaught of Thatcher and the patronising contempt of New Labour, and they will survive the attacks of the present pantomime-horse coalition because they are rooted in all that is best in our society."

He will also question why the solution to the economic crisis is cuts in public spending.

Mr McCluskey is expected to say: "Who says this Government has the right to privatise our NHS, to close our libraries and hospitals, to destroy our kids' education and scrap home helps, to make the poorest public servants pay more and work longer for their modest pensions - all to get the big banks back on their feet again?"