Green Party releases document proving Sinn Fein issued ‘false guarantees’ on Welfare reform while ignoring warning signs
March 19, 2015
Green MLA Steven Agnew has released a document today (link below) detailing the clear and early warning signs that the sums on welfare reform did not add up.
“Welfare Reform has become a hot election issue for all Executive parties and this has led to a lot of mud slinging over recent weeks,” Green MLA Steven Agnew said.
“However, Sinn Fein should not be allowed to manipulate the citizens of Northern Ireland into believing that they did not know the ramifications of the Welfare Reform Bill when they committed to signing any agreements.
“The estimated costs of welfare reform ranged from £115m as stated by Nelson McCausland when he was DSD Minister, to £250m as cited by NICVA.
“The deal Sinn Fein signed up to gave us £565m over six years, which totals around £94m per year.
“So whether you accept the higher or lower estimate costs, there was always going to be a substantial shortfall to cover all needs.
“Therefore, Sinn Fein should never have claimed that because of the deal they negotiated, no-one in Northern Ireland would lose out.
“They were also confident in their public pronouncements that the Bedroom Tax would not be introduced in Northern Ireland and they were either wrong or disingenuous about that as well.
“The Green Party has consistently opposed the welfare cuts and repeatedly and publicly warned the Stormont House Agreement failed to offer the promised absolute protection from social security cuts despite what Sinn Fein MLA’s were saying to the media.
“We warned at the end of last year that a behind–the-doors deal in the form of the Stormont House Agreement was only storing up trouble for the future.
“The Green Party opposed welfare reform not only on the basis of the allocation of an inadequate top-up fund to protect the most vulnerable but also because the NI Executive categorically failed years after the legislation was first produced to re-draft and significantly improve the initial proposals
“At earlier stages of the Welfare Reform Bill, I proposed amendments to protect the most vulnerable but these were voted down by both Sinn Fein and the DUP.
“The sums on welfare reform never added up and false guarantees were issued by Sinn Fein.
“The record shows clear warning signs of the real impact of welfare reform were there from the outset, even if Sinn Fein representatives are now claiming they were misled or just missed them.”