Ford – Stormont institutions severely damaged by welfare decision

Alliance Leader David Ford has criticised the decision of Sinn Fein, SDLP and the Green Party to block the final stage of the Welfare legislation on Tuesday, which will have serious implications for Departments’ budgets.

David Ford MLA said: “The Stormont institutions have been severely damaged by the SDLP, Sinn Fein and Green Party. These politicians are not facing reality. Instead of acting in the interests of protecting the most vulnerable people, they will end up harming the very people that they claim they are trying to protect.

“We now face the prospect of having welfare cuts imposed over our heads by the Tories but without the flexibilities that we had secured. At the same time, key services like health and policing will lose their ability to protect the public.

“We will also have to deal with an almost impossible task to manage our budgets – with the prospect of further cuts being made to Departments that were already struggling to deal with previous cuts. Without agreement on welfare, there is real doubt that the rest of the Stormont House deal can be implemented. This includes the measures to deal with the past which are needed by victims, and the voluntary redundancy scheme which Departments were relying on in order to balance their budgets this year.

“The decision of these parties to block this bill has seriously jeopardised the continuation of devolution in Northern Ireland. They appear to have abandoned the Good Friday Agreement, as well as the Stormont House Agreement.

“Stormont has been lurching from one crisis to the next over the past few years. It has never been clearer that the institutions need to be rebooted. This current impasse has been made worse by the unreformed petition of concern system and the lack of a voluntary coalition Executive. Until we see the implementation of radical changes, I fear that we will never be able to get out of the current cycle where crisis follows crisis.

“The blame for a Tory imposed welfare system and further cuts to public services will lie with the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the Green Party.”


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