SDLP claims on Welfare Reform entirely bogus
Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has described SDLP claims that Sinn Féin was supporting the current Welfare Reform Bill as ‘laughable nonsense from a party that has once again been seen to be floundering on this issue like most others under the current leader’.
Mr Maskey said:
“Alistair McDonnell’s claims that Sinn Féin are supporting the current Welfare Bill are laughable given the reality that Sinn Féin have in both the Executive and Assembly led opposition to the Tory imposition including when the SDLP were driving this agenda in DSD.
“What Alistair McDonnell fails to recognise is that the Welfare Reform agenda we are dealing with today started under Margaret Ritchie as DSD Minister, was continued by Alex Attwood and has now been taken forward by Nelson McCausland.
“Throughout this period and again today the SDLP have been absolutely insistent that under no circumstances could parity with Westminster be broken. In the Executive sub committee dealing with Welfare Reform the SDLP have not brought any proposals to the table. None. That is the contribution they have made to date in trying to offset the worst excesses of these Tory cuts.
“Today the SDLP attempted to ride two horses. On one hand they supported a deferral of the Bill in order for further representations to be made to the British government and on the other sought to argue that a petition of concern be introduced to kill the legislation at this stage. It was irresponsible politics trying to play games with peoples benefits.
“Sinn Féin for our part brought forward a very sensible and measured amendment aimed at giving the Assembly parties more time to get the necessary flexibilities from the British Government. But this is not the end of the battle, we will continue to lead the demand for change to the Bill and lead the demand for protection for low income families and those reliant on benefit. It would have been good if the SDLP had decided to join with us in that work rather than floundering, a trait which has become common under their current leadership.”