More than 1,000 people have taken part in an anti-austerity rally in Belfast, in protest at cuts being introduced by the government at Westminster.  The rally was organised by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).  Health workers, civil servants, teachers and representatives of the Fire Service were among those taking part.

The government has argued the cuts are necessary to tackle the deficit.

The rally began with a march past City Hall to Custom House Square. The event was planned to coincide with protests in Glasgow and London.

The organisers said the protest was not just about sending a message to the coalition government in Westminster, it was also about decisions taken at Stormont.

The unions want child poverty, job cuts, welfare reform and corporation tax to be tackled. They said they hoped local ministers were listening.

The ITCU’s Northern Ireland Committee represents more than 250,000 members in 36 trade unions across Northern Ireland.

In a statement ahead of Saturday’s march, the ITCU said the rally would “send a message to our MLAs and our MPs from all political parties that we the people are firmly opposed to the failed policy of austerity which destroys lives and futures”.

Ten days ago, the Stormont Assembly voted in favour of the Welfare Reform Bill, supporting the biggest shake up of social security benefits in decades.

The changes will impact on thousands of people in Northern Ireland, affecting those in receipt of payments such as disability living allowance, housing benefit and employment support.