Kelly under fire on Stormont House Agreement claims

Mike Nesbitt said Gerry Kelly knew who 'was responsible for this mess'
Mike Nesbitt said Gerry Kelly knew who 'was responsible for this mess'

Sinn Fein has called for progress on legacy issues covered in the Stormont House Agreement, despite claims the party was hindering its full implemention by blocking welfare reform.

Gerry Kelly was speaking following a BBC Panorama programme that alleged security force collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

Nigel Dodds arrives at the count with his wife Diane

Nigel Dodds arrives at the count with his wife Diane

Mr Kelly said the talks process had agreed mechanisms which should now be built upon.

He also called for the Government to “honour its commitment” to hold an independent inquiry into the 1989 murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.

However, both the DUP and Ulster Unionists hit out at the Sinn Fein MLA, saying his party must act urgently over welfare reform to keep the agreement on track.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds warned that if both Sinn Fein and the SDLP did not “act responsibly” then a £600million “black hole” in the Assembly’s finances could cause the institutions to collapse within months.

“It is not sustainable to have this level of damage caused to our public services by parties because they are not prepared to take practical and sensible financial decisions. It will result in the collapse of the Assembly by July 31 unless the Government step in and enact welfare reform,” he said.

Mr Dodds said a better deal on welfare had been negotiated for Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK, and added: “If some parties in the Assembly will not act then our sovereign Parliament must act.”

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said the Sinn Fein MLA “knows who is responsible for this mess,” and that it is Sinn Fein hindering the agreement’s full implementation by blocking welfare reform.

He said: “Mr Kelly knows the only obstacle to progressing the Stormont House Agreement is himself and his colleagues in Sinn Féin, who have flip flopped over the commitments they made regarding welfare reform.

“They can protect the vulnerable in Northern Ireland, or selfishly seek votes in the Republic. They can mitigate the worst impacts of welfare reform here, or sacrifice the vulnerable on the altar of their political ambitions.”

Mr Nesbitt added: “It is not just those seeking truth and justice who are suffering because of Sinn Féin.

“It is those with poor mental health and wellbeing, those seeking a job, and those seeking out of the public sector through the Voluntary Exit Scheme.

“Mr Kelly knows who is responsible for this mess and who can fix it.”