Speaking during the Further Consideration Stage of the bill in the Assembly on Tuesday, Stewart Dickson MLA said: “It is important to see that progress has been made in the past few weeks after two and a half years of deadlock, meaning that we can finally pass the legislation and stop the large fines that will have cost Northern Ireland £150million. This is money that could have been spent in our schools or hospitals.
“This deal was hard won after negotiation between the five parties in the talks before Christmas. The agreement has also meant that Northern Ireland has been able to secure Welfare Reform mitigation measures that aren’t available elsewhere. But we must remember that the Stormont House Agreement was not only about Welfare Reform but included other issues that have been stalling progress for years, such as the legacy of the Troubles, flags and Corporation Tax. To undermine Welfare Reform agreement, is to undermine progress in Northern Ireland as a whole.
“Therefore, throughout this difficult process the Alliance Party has kept its discipline and kept to the word and spirit of the Stormont Castle and Stormont House Agreements, because without them, the institutions were in serious threat of collapse.
“It is disappointing that the SDLP have not kept to the agreements and instead submitted uncosted amendments which could have undermined the entire deal.”