People Before Profit call for free access to all leisure facilities for over-65s

Wed, 19/02/2020 - 14:42 -- Editor

A proposal by People Before Profit to look at what it would cost to make all leisure services free for over 65s has been taken on board by Council. Council will now assess what the costs of this proposal for wider access would be. Leisure facilities currently provide free access for over-65s only to swimming, health suite and sauna to over 65s. PBP's Shaun Harkin said: "The original motion proposed by Sinn Fein was for 75+ and was described as more of a symbolic gesture.   People are living longer but we should aim to make leisure services accessible as possible when people can actually utilise them as much as possible. And actually enjoy them.  Access to leisure services can be crucial for healthy living and good mental health. The age issue doesn't end there. The political establishment in Stormont and the Dail are hellbent on raising the state retirement age further.  Stormont voted to increase it to 66 and it's odds on they'll try to go higher. The Dail has done the same. We are opposed to this.  If they can get away with it, governments and employers will have us working until we drop. They would jump at the chance to raise it to 75 as soon as possible - we should play no role in assisting them in this. People across France are in revolt at the government's efforts to raise the age of retirement. We should do the same.  More generally, we need to be looking at how to make leisure services as affordable as possible for everyone. Our Council prices are lower than most but there's constant pressure to increase prices. Most of the families and individuals using leisure services in working class areas are of modest means. They are families who've been struggling with pay cuts while all the bills have increases. They're families dealing with welfare reforms. Our overarching goal should be to make it possible for more people to access leisure services and make use of our facilities."