SDLP Welcome SF U-turn on Welfare

Admin 2 Foyle, Press Releases, Stormont

Speaking after Sinn Fein finally accept SDLP opposition to Welfare Reform Bill, SDLP Mark H Durkan said he welcomes the opposition but believes Sinn Fein have been ‘irresponsible’ and ‘flip flopped’ over welfare too long to be trusted.
Mr Durkan said
“The SDLP has led the opposition to these aspects of Welfare reform that punish the struggling, the sick and the vulnerable. Throughout this fight we have been frustrated by the ignorance of the DUP and Sinn Féin who vetoed, voted against and disrupted our reasoned attempt to salvage this legislation.
“Sinn Féin have recklessly and blindly followed the DUP without securing firm guarantees. Our amendments were a way of doing that and I’m glad today that Sinn Féin have woken up to the reality and joined us in our principled opposition to this attack on the vulnerable.
“Sinn Fein’s late u-turn is irresponsible; it puts in jeopardy the future of the institutions. While we welcome the fact they will not support this legislation as it hits the most vulnerable in our society the hardest, we cannot accept this sort of ‘flip flop’ politics where Sinn Fein change their tune whenever it suits them.
“A few weeks ago Martin McGuinness called the SDLP ‘dissidents’ for not supporting the welfare bill, when all we had done was present workable mitigation amendments intended to secure the safety net negotiated at Stormont House. Sinn Fein opposed our amendments, they accused us of scaremongering and now when there is no opportunity to build these protections into the law they now u-turn and say it’s not good enough.
“SDLP will oppose the welfare reform bill not because of this sham today but because we opposed it at every stage because the legislation did not get the amendments it needed to protect the most vulnerable or bring forward the mitigation agreed at Stormont House. SDLP has consistently fought the fight for the vulnerable and for workers by voting against the draconian measures included in the Bill in Westminster and in the Assembly, when others remained silent or failed to oppose what they are saying they do today.
“Bigger questions now remain unanswered, as Sinn Fein kick their toys out of the pram as they say the promises of the DUP have been reneged on, what exactly were these promises? Why are Sinn Fein and the DUP operating outside of the institutions carving their own agendas in back room meetings? SDLP want this legislation stopped and we will stop it, but we also want a committee immediately set up to not only look at the substantive issues to do with welfare but also how this process has been handled by Sinn Fein and the DUP.
“What the public need to see is that the SDLP have been responsible, consistent and argued on behalf of the most vulnerable in society throughout the legislative process. The sentiments of Sinn Fein are ever changing, a few weeks ago John O’Dowd Education Minister accused me of scaremongering and told me on radio that no one will be adversely impacted by the bill. We all had the legislation, we all knew that without the safeguards in it we could not secure the welfare system we wanted. Sinn Fein have been irresponsible and simply cannot be trusted to govern responsibly or be open and honest with the public as well as with the Assembly.”

Admin 2SDLP Welcome SF U-turn on Welfare