On 16 April, the BBC NI Evening Extra programme ran a slot on long-term unemployment, and on the contention that the City Council, despite passing a policy to assist, had not yet implemented it properly. Several clearly genuine people were interviewed, most notably a gentleman in his ’50s who said he had sent off countless letters to potential employers to no avail, and was now on a six-month programme which he knew would not lead to a permanent job. This is a genuine and truly desperate situation – fundamentally he is doing the right thing, but he is also right that employers don’t want to know. He is, in other words, the type of person that no one would mind their rates and taxes going to assist into work – the type of person for whom the Council policy was not working.
Here are the exact words of a local Councillor in response to this desperate situation.
“Alderman Jim Rodgers, former Lord Mayor of the City of Belfast and Ulster Unionist Party Councillor on Belfast City Council. In the public sector, things don’t just happen overnight; and we’re in the midst now of local government and European elections and members’ times obviously are being taken up on that front…but we’ll get there eventually.”
In other words, in his view, the aforementioned gentleman should pause on £70/week while Councillors on £180/week (part-time, minimum) stop working on his behalf to get themselves re-elected.
It is despicable that ratepayers’ money goes into the pocket of a selfish and offensive representative whose prime interest is obviously himself. Speaking of elections, I trust the electorate see to it that this is no longer the case as of next year.
We’ll get there eventually…