Strong showing from voluntary and community organisations at SDLP party conference

Representatives from the voluntary and community sector mingled with Ministers, MPs, MLAs, Councillors and party members as the SDLP kicked off the Northern Ireland party conference season in the Ramada Hotel.

Most organisations had an information stand and some were there simply to observe and take the opportunity to have a conversation with elected members.

Support for Smart Solutions Campaign

Business was brisk at the NICVA stand and many elected members took the time to stop and chat.  It was a great opportunity for us to raise the issues of our Smart Solutions campaign. The message that voluntary and community organisations should not be seen as an easy target for cuts was reinforced by the SDLP members in the debate on the economy that took place on Friday night. 

Access to BenefitsMotion to stand firm on cuts

The conference agreed a motion which included: to stand firm against British Government cuts to public spending which would have a detrimental effect on the most vulnerable members of society and believes any cuts must not have a damaging effect on public service provision; and calls on the Executive to undertake responsible budgeting and ensure that the protection of core services does not equate to protecting departmental agendas in order to continue funding the good work carried out by many voluntary and community groups.

Disability ActionEducation, local government, sport, culture and arts, and shared society

Saturday saw debates on education, local government, sport culture and arts and a panel discussion on a shared society.  Social Development Minister Alex Attwood addressed the conference on Saturday afternoon and he pledged to continue to fight against the ‘poverty of imagination’ in the Executive when it comes to developing Volunteer Nowpolicy.

In her first address as party leader Margaret Ritchie took the opportunity to voice the parties support for the Green New Deal.