The crisis facing the political institutions has been created by the Conservative Government and its plans not only to further cut Welfare, but also its plans to cut £13bn off public spending with a devastating knock-on affect to public services here.
That was the message from local MLA John O’Dowd as he responded to comments from David Simpson on cuts: “While the Tories are responsible for the crisis it is hugely disappointing to see local DUP MP David Simpson calling on Sinn Féin to implement the cuts and take money out of the purses and wallets of people across Upper Bann.
“It appears that the DUP is responding to pressure and demands from the Tories in London. In my view that is a major tactical error.
“Sinn Féin stood in the recent elections against Tory austerity and for social justice and equality. Our approach was mandated by over 176,000 voters, almost 25 per cent of the popular vote
“In contrast the Tories received only 9,000 votes in the north, just over one per cent of the vote. This is a party, which doesn’t have a single Assembly or local council seat. They have no democratic mandate for their austerity policies here.”
Mr O’Dowd continued: “They have already taken £1.5 billion from the Executive’s block grant, and Cameron’s cabinet of Tory millionaires have announced plans for further eye-watering cuts of £25 billion; to our public services and to welfare protections for people with disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.
“That is unacceptable to Sinn Féin.
“Sinn Féin will not support a welfare bill, which does not contain those protections and we will not be part of any agenda, which punishes the poor and dismantles public services.”
Mr O’ Dowd said: “This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite.”