Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew has welcomed remarks made by British Labour MP John McDonnell speaking during a Back Bench recess debate in the House of Commons yesterday, when he raised concern over attempts by the British government 'to impose their welfare reform legislation' on the people of the north of Ireland.
Michelle Gildernew said:
“I welcome the contribution by John McDonnell yesterday, where he highlights the effects of the Tory coalition welfare cuts policies, already implemented in Britain, as a "disaster" with serious "adverse consequences" for ordinary people.
”During my regular contacts with MPs from Britain I hear at first hand the dire consequences of measures contained in the Welfare Reform Bill. John McDonnell is right to point out the growing concerns from Sinn Féin and others about the effect of having these cuts imposed on us. As John argues, the hardship people are already experiencing "especially the most vulnerable -- children and people with disabilities" is unacceptable.
“His comments also reflect the widespread dismay at the British government's response to those of us who object to and resent the threat to impose fines on the Assembly executive if we do not acquiesce in the Tory demand that we rubber stamp their agenda of cuts.
“These threats of graduated fines are clearly seen as a blatant act of political blackmail by the British treasury.
“John McDonnell is absolutely right to state: "The proposals threaten not just to impose a significantly harsh welfare regime on the people of Northern Ireland, but to undermine the whole concept of devolved government."
“Given the evidence of the negative affect of these cuts in Britain, this is not a theoretical debate. The effects of these Tory welfare cuts will cause serious hardship to the people we represent from all communities and we will continue to oppose them.
“We will also continue to work with like-minded people and groups in Britain and in the South to fight the austerity agenda of the Conservative led governments in both London and Dublin. We will be resolute in defending the living standards of ordinary people across Ireland.”