The North Belfast News is the paper that just keeps getting it wrong and the recent edition of Saturday 17 May was no exception.
North Belfast News journalist Evan Short wrote an article about the closure of St Kevin's Luncheon Club in North Queen Street. In the first paragraph of the article he stated:
TORY cuts as part of welfare reform have closed a cross community lunch club that has served as a vital lifeline to pensioners for the last 25 years.
Then in the third paragraph he wrote:
The club manager Pat Anderson found out last week that due to welfare reform the organisation that employed them through a training scheme was no longer able to offer positions.
Later on in the article he said:
Liam Maskey from Intercomm said he was very disappointed that they couldn't continue with the funding but the reform of welfare had made it impossible.
Three times in the article it is stated that the closure of the luncheon club was caused by welfare reform, in spite of the fact that welfare reform has not been implemented in Northern Ireland. In fact 'Tory welfare cuts' have nothing to do with the closure of the luncheon club. so let's set the record straight.
There have been no cuts to the funding of community services in Northern Ireland because of welfare reform and it is important that we do not cause concern to people that the reform of the welfare system is impacting on funding for community services. The two are totally separate.
Moreover the proposed changes to the social security system in the Welfare Reform Bill (NI) 2012 are still being considered by the Northern Ireland Assembly and have not yet been implemented here. So if they haven't been implemented how could welfare reform be the cause of the closure.
Reading through the article and trying to make some sense of it, it seems that the club was run by Intercomm and that they employed staff through a training scheme for which funding is no longer available. In that case Intercomm have lost a contract to another provider and it is nothing to do with welfare reform. This was probably a DEL contract and had nothing to do with DSD, which deals with welfare and welfare reform.
I know you can't believe everything you read in the press but in the case of the North Belfast News it might be better to ask, can you believe anything?
The closure of the club will be a blow to those senior citizens who have attended it and it is deeply regrettable but the cause of the closure is in no way connected to welfare reform.