A MASS meeting is being held in Strabane tomorrow night to examine the “devastating” impact of austerity on local people.
Organised by Action Against Cuts, a new movement comprising welfare advisors, community activists and concerned individuals working as a collective to share information about the cuts and empower opposition, the meeting will feature a number of case studies from locals who have borne the brunt of the Conservative government’s welfare reform.
The meeting follows a protest at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council last week, which saw dozens of anti-austerity protesters invade the Guildhall. With some sporting facemasks bearing the image of Dave Johns, the English actor who played the title role in the film, ‘I, Daniel Blake,’ the group from Action Against Cuts disrupted the meeting for half an hour, just as proceedings had commenced. Others bore placards with the slogan, ‘We are all Daniel Blake: Smash Welfare Reform.’
“That protest definitely worked,” Strabane woman, Teresa Stewart from Action Against Cuts remarked.
“The number of people who said to me about it afterwards was amazing. It gave people that hope that we’re not just a talking shop. We will push all the boundaries that we can within the law. All these things are about trying to bring people along. We need to get up, speak up and stand with people shoulder to shoulder. And you don’t have to be on benefits to get involved here. Nobody is free from the effects of these cuts. Strabane especially doesn’t need to be affected by any more cuts.”
Urging as many people as possible to come along to next Wednesday’s meeting from 6.30pm at the Fir Trees Hotel and show their support, the local lady explained that further meetings and protests are already being organised for the near future.
“We’re using these things to try and mobilise and energise people to say we’re not taking this anymore,” she explained.
“We want to get Strabane people involved and then it will move up a gear. This isn’t the end of things. It’s only the start. We want to send a loud message, that we will not be listening to lip service any more. The authorities are either with the people or against them.”