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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 November 2006, 18:57 GMT
Politicians rally behind families
Catalogue detail from Farepak website
NI politicians have offered to help the families
NI politicians are rallying to the support of families faced with a bleak Christmas after losing their savings with a UK hamper company.

Farepak ceased trading last month leaving families without the goods or vouchers they had paid for over the course of the year.

However, several politicians, following the example of NI Secretary Peter Hain, have pledged to help the families.

UUP, SDLP and Sinn Fein members have all said they would give to the fund.

'Difference'

After a debate in Parliament, Peter Hain said he would be pleased to donate a day's pay from his 136,677 salary, around 374.

North Down UUP MP Lady Sylvia Hermon was asked by the BBC news website if she would like to contribute.

"Yes, of course. It's a really good idea because it will make a difference to the lives of so many children this Christmas," she said.

"After all, it's the season of goodwill."

Sinn Fein assembly member John O'Dowd said: "Presumably if a charitable collection is organised for those who have lost out due to the collapse of Farepac, Sinn Fein members would donate as generously as anyone else.

"However it is worth noting that Sinn Fein elected representatives get paid the basic industrial wage and not the sort of salary level received by the other parties."

'Fighting'

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said he would "be happy to put his hand in his pocket and donate a day's pay".

He said he would also be calling on party members and local businesses to contribute to the fund.

"I have been fighting for something to be done for the past three weeks," he said.

"I have constituents who have lost money through this collapse and there is one lady... who has lost more than 20,000."

Swindon-based Farepak ran a savings scheme for about 150,000 people across the UK, but collapsed in October without offering its customers compensation.

Supermarket giant Tesco has pledged 250,000 to the fund and called on other firms to help.

Marks & Spencer has also offered 250,000.




SEE ALSO
Farepak families fund is launched
07 Nov 06 |  Business
Hamper rescue plan is 'unlikely'
03 Nov 06 |  Wiltshire
Goodwill hope for hamper victims
21 Oct 06 |  Wiltshire

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