Sinn Féin to oppose welfare bill in Northern Ireland Assembly

BBC

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has said the Northern Ireland Assembly is facing a “very serious crisis” over the issue of welfare reform.

His party has blocked the passage of the welfare reform bill after accusing the DUP of acting in bad faith.

DUP leader Peter Robinson described Sinn Féin’s statement as “dishonourable and ham-fisted”.

Welfare reform was the issue that threatened the future of power-sharing at Stormont last year.

‘Profound implications’

The five main parties reached broad agreement on 23 December on a number of key issues, including welfare.

It followed 12 weeks of talks involving the Northern Ireland parties and the British and Irish governments.

However, Mr McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, said the DUP had reneged on its commitments in the Stormont House Agreement to protect the most vulnerable people in society.

Mr McGuinness described it as a “very serious situation” that could have “profound implications” for both the Stormont House Agreement and the Northern Ireland political institutions.

“At Stormont House, the five parties agreed a series of measures to protect the vulnerable and safeguard current and future welfare claimants under the control of the executive,” he said.

‘U-turn’

“However, the DUP have acted in bad faith and are now reneging on their commitments to protect the most vulnerable. It is their intention to provide only partial protection to current recipients of benefit and no protection whatsoever for future claimants.

“That is totally unacceptable.”

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