Make Sinn Fein pay welfare price, says UKIP

David McNarry
David McNarry

Sinn Fein departments should be made to shoulder all of the Treasury fines as a result of the party’s refusal to implement welfare reform, David McNarry has said.

The UKIP leader in Northern Ireland said that the cuts should only fall on the departments of the ministers who are blocking the cuts.

Mr McNarry’s comments came after DUP Finance Minister Simon Hamilton warned that if welfare reform is not extended to the Province he would have to cut £68 million from the health budget this year.

Mr Hamilton said he had received a letter from the Treasury, saying that £100 million was being taken out of the Northern Ireland budget during 2014. Stormont is already losing £5 million a month as a result of its stance.

Mr McNarry said there “should be no question whatsoever that the health budget should be touched”.

The Strangford MLA said:“It is only fair that the ministers blocking welfare reform in Northern Ireland should pay the price for their folly.

“It should not fall on the departments of ministers who are willing to progress the welfare reform demands by Westminster.

“That would mean the Sinn Fein departments – DARD, DCAL and the Department of Education. It would also mean the DoE which is run by the SDLP who are also adopting an unrealistic approach to welfare reform.

“Obviously there would have to be protections built into such a move. The Single Farm Payment to Farmers would have to be protected as DARD is only a paying agent for this.

“Clearly no school budgets should be hit. They should be ring-fenced. What principally needs to be hit are the costs of bureaucracy.

“Should the culture department be abolished altogether?”

But Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey accused the DUP of “scaremongering on the potential losses to the local economy if Tory cuts are not implemented here”.

He said: “This is too serious an issue for people to be just bandying about figures in an effort to scare the public into accepting cuts without a fight.”

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said: “I warned that the financial penalties of not implementing welfare reform will have a detrimental impact on essential public services.

“It is shocking that the health service will lose out on £68 million as a result of political games between Sinn Fein and the SDLP.”