Sinn Féin committed to implementation of agreement - Adams
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in Newry this evening at the launch of the Westminster election campaign for Mickey Brady said:
"Today Sinn Féin announced our determination to oppose the welfare reform Bill going through the Assembly. No on should be surprised by this.
"Martin McGuinness when he learned of the DUP’s apparent intention to resile from this section of the Stormont House Agreement spent days trying to meet with them. They avoided any engagement and Martin made it clear in his Ard Fheis remarks that the matters involved were red line issues for Sinn Féin.
"I also made it clear that Sinn Féin would hold to our commitments and that we would hold other parties to theirs.
"The implications for the political institutions are very serious but the behaviour of the DUP had left us with no choice.
"Welfare benefits is a key and indispensible element of the Stormont House Agreement which guaranteed benefit protections for current and future applicants in respect of benefits under the control of the Executive.
"Specifically it was agreed that benefits for children with disabilities, for adults with severe disabilities, and for the long-term sick would be protected.
"As you know George Mitchell famously said after the Good Friday Agreement was achieved that that was the easy bit.
"The hard bit would be ensuring its implementation.
"That has been our experience with the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements.
"There are key elements of the Good Friday Agreement that have still not been implemented, including a Bill of Rights and the establishment of a Civic Forum.
"The British and Irish governments have reneged on these.
"At Weston Park the British government agreed to establish a full inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.
"The British government has reneged on this also.
"And at St. Andrew’s in 2006 there was a commitment by the British to legislate for the Irish language through an Acht na Gaeilge.
"This has been reneged on also.
"Since the Stormont House Agreement was reached on the cusp of Christmas Eve Sinn Féin has engaged positively with the Party Leaders’ group to ensure its full implementation.
"Regrettably it became clear last week that the DUP were acting in bad faith and were intent on reneging on their commitments to protect the most vulnerable.
"We discovered that it is their intention to provide only partial protection to current recipients of benefit and no protection whatsoever for future claimants.
"This is not what was agreed in the Stormont House negotiations and is totally unacceptable.
"If the DUP want to strip benefits from children with disabilities, from adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick; or push children further into poverty, then it is for them to explain and justify that.
"Until the DUP Minister for DSD produces a scheme, which reflects what as agreed at Christmas Sinn Féin will not support the Welfare Bill.
"The Executive is a unique coalition of parties and it can only function effectively on the basis of good faith and honesty.
"The DUP is a conservative party. That it supports Tory party cuts is no surprise but it entered into an agreement with Sinn Féin to protect the most vulnerable in our society on benefits.
"Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that that commitment is held to.
"Of course, we are very mindful that our opposition to the Welfare Bill could have wider implications for the political institutions and the Stormont House Agreement but there can be no reneging on this issue.
"Sinn Féin is equally committed to finding an acceptable resolution on the terms agreed at the Stormont House Agreement."