David Ford MLA said: “We have now seen an unravelling of the Stormont House Agreement which sought to move our economy forward and resolve issues that were holding our society back such as dealing with the past.
“Sinn Fein is either being utterly cynical or utterly cowardly, or even utterly stupid.. Everybody was fully aware that the welfare arrangements were only temporary transitional measures. It is simply not credible for Sinn Fein to suggest otherwise.
“The petition of concern that has been submitted by Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Green Party has put the institutions at risk. This is not about protecting the most vulnerable in our society; it is about parties protecting themselves. They are damaging our chances of mitigating the worst aspects of the welfare changes and of protecting our public services.
“It appears that Sinn Fein are doing this for electioneering purposes. They claim to be opposed to austerity in the South and are frightened to be seen to be implementing it in the North.”