By Naomi Reading
The Hands Off Our Libraries campaign – initiated by Labour Alternative and backed by Unite’s Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly, local trades councils and other left activists – is organising against these cuts. A Day of Action was called on Saturday June 25th, with protests and campaigning at 12 of the branches against the vicious attacks on access to culture and knowledge. Activists organised a protest outside the Lagan Valley constituency office of the Minister responsible for our libraries – the DUP’s Paul Givan – demanding that he and the NI Executive make adequate funding available to reverse the effect of these cuts. Hands Off Our Libraries will be delivering the petitions collected, showing public concern, to the Department of Communities in Belfast.
Paul Givan and other Stormont representatives state that there is no money to fund public services like libraries that act as a vital hub for communities around Northern Ireland; yet are still planning to give huge tax breaks to big business. The reality is that these harsh Stormont cuts will be ripping away a vital resources for students, the elderly, families on benefits and immigrant communities.