SINN Fein have been accused of “hypocrisy”, after distributing a leaflet calling for opposition to “Tory cuts”.
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly maintained that Sinn Fein were “misleading the people of Upper Bann”, claiming they were implementing cuts in Stormont, while opposing them in election literature.
“I said in the chamber they were implementing Tory cuts,” said Mrs Kelly.
“It appears that they are not as good at negotiating with the British government without guns under the table.”
Mrs Kelly described the budget as “seriously flawed”.
She said: “It is largely an application of the £4 billion cuts handed down by the Coalition government. Bizarrely, one party who negotiated this budget of cuts want us to fight the cuts – this is either stupid, dishonest or both.
She added: “They are simply conning the people in Upper Bann.”
However, Sinn Fein have described Mrs Kelly’s comments as provocative.
Upper Bann, Assembly Member John O’Dowd said: “Dolores should understand that the people of Upper Bann are not easily hoodwinked and are quite capable of analysing any information presented to them and then making up there own minds. They don’t need politicians telling them how to think but they do require honesty and constructive ideas from those same politicians.”
Mr O’Dowd called for the SDLP to join with Sinn Féin in the fight for fiscal autonomy saying: “Sinn Féin are currently engaged in the process of working out the fairest distribution of an allocation of funds, the amount of which was dictated, not by the Assembly, but by Westminster.
“If the SDLP are genuinely concerned about the fiscal limitations imposed by Westminster they should join with Sinn Féin in the demand for the economic autonomy required if we are to have the tax-raising powers needed to develop the economy. This would serve the people of Upper Bann better than the type of unproductive sniping Dolores is currently engaging in.”
The Sinn Féin MLA said Nationalism was on the brink of an historic breakthrough with the distinct likelihood of an equal division of the six Assembly seats between nationalists and unionists following the May 5 election:
“The May 5th elections have the potential to be historic and that opportunity shouldn’t be thrown away as a result of individual candidates engaging in petty, parish-pump politics. Despite what Dolores appears to think, the contest is not between Sinn Féin and the SDLP and the forthcoming elections shouldn’t be turned into that type of wrangling match. Remember the lesson of Fermanagh South Tyrone where the intervention of the SDLP almost gave a seat to a Tory Unionist and contrast that with the last Assembly election in Upper Bann where transfers from Sinn Féin assured Dolores her seat. To win you have to identify who your real opposition truly is.”