Keep community spirit going all year round

Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Assemblyman and member of the Stormont Agriculture and Culture Committees, has said the recent Royal Jubilee and Olympic Torch Relay community spirit should last all year round.

Assemblyman Swann congratulated all the North Antrim constituents who turned out in all sorts of weather to both commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and welcome the Olympic Flame Relay to the constituency.

Mr Swann added: “The entire community of North Antrim is to be highly praised for this tremendous neighbourhood spirit. The community’s dignified and dedicated support for a range of recent high profile events is to be highly commended.

“These not only included the Jubilee and Olympic Torch events, but also the recent Ballymena and Ballymoney Shows.

“But we must not lose the momentum of this community spirit. We can keep this superb community spirit going all year round by converting it into good neighbourliness.

“For example, the entire community can help combat attacks and burglaries against the elderly by forming neighbourhood watch schemes to keep and eye on the most vulnerable sections of the constituency,” Mr Swann urged.

Mr Swann is also North Antrim UUP Chairman and Party Chief Whip.

In his statement, the UUP MLA called on the community to become the ‘eyes and ears’ of the elderly in the constituency.

He said: “Many of the elderly people in our constituency have given a life-time of service to their community and country. Surely in any democratic nation, we can afford this vulnerable section of our community the right to be safe in their own homes?

“The harsh reality is that the modern police service has a fierce workload and petty criminals seem to be able to target pensioners at random. The police cannot be everywhere in the constituency, so we as responsible citizens have out duty to play, too, in the protection of the elderly.

“Even with these supposedly warm summer nights, many in the elderly population still have to face the dilemma of heat or eat. Now there are the added dangers of muggings and robberies. I appeal to the community to become the eyes and ears of the elderly.

“When people whom the elderly know keep regular checks on our pensioner community, then perhaps they will feel safer in their homes. As a society, we are living longer and therefore the number of elderly residents in the constituency is increasing. Pensioner power should not be limited to the ballot box.

“They continue to have a very valuable role to fulfil in our constituency by passing on their experiences and expertise in life to younger generations through residents, tenants and community associations, for example.

“But it is also imperative that these senior citizens have their human rights protected by being able to live out their twilight years in peace and safety. That should be the legacy of the community spirit in North Antrim in recent days,” said Assemblyman Swann.