Pensioners worry about keeping warm
Staying warm in winter is the primary concern for pensioners across Northern Ireland, a survey has revealed.
The 2012 Pensioners Parliament report which was launched at Stormont found that four out of five (81%) older people were worried about the cost of heating their home.
Michael Monaghan from Age Sector Platform, which represents more than 200,000 older people from 30 organisations, said the levels of concern had increased from last year.
He added: "With the high cost of electricity, gas and oil, it is no surprise that the number one worry for older people is the basic ability to keep warm during the winter months. As we approach the coldest months of the year, we are calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to provide help for the most vulnerable."
More than 70 pensioners gathered in the Senate Chamber at Parliament Buildings to raise their issues with Junior Minister Jennifer McCann, Justice Minister David Ford and the Health Minister Edwin Poots.
Pensioner Francis Hughes said eradicating fuel poverty should be a top priority for politicians.
He said: "In the winter of 2010/11 there were 741 deaths in Northern Ireland. The vast majority of these were of people aged 65 or over. This is hardly surprising given what has happened to pensioners over the last couple of years.
"Not only did pensioners loose up to £100 from our fuel winter payment but our pensions have also been attacked by the change in the operating measure from the retail price index to the consumer price index. The UK Government is also planning to further rob the wallets of pensioners in 2013 when it freezes the age related personal tax allowance patronisingly called the granny tax."
Fear of crime was cited as the second biggest concern for two-thirds (65%) of Northern Ireland's elderly population. Mr Ford was told how older people wanted to see more visible policing; improved response times; a higher conviction rate and tougher sentencing for the perpetrators of crimes against the elderly.
Bill Carson, chairman of the Age Sector Platform community safety campaign committee, said: "Older people should be able to live in their own homes and their own communities free of fear. They have enough worries about the expenses that they have. They shouldn't have to worry about being attacked."