We in Sinn Fein opposed British welfare cuts

Conor Murphy
Conor Murphy

A careful and detailed analysis of the Stormont House Agreement will show that Sinn Féin achieved what we set out to do – protect the most vulnerable in society.

Sinn Féin opposed the implementation of the British government welfare cuts while other parties were content to agree a bill that included elements that can only be described as an attack on the poorest in society.



From the off, Sinn Féin publicly stated that we are not opposed to reform of the welfare system but to the drastic British Tory cuts masquerading as reform which are, in fact, an assault on the welfare state.

Other parties and almost all media commentators told us it couldn’t be done but Sinn Féin stood firm.

We brought other parties to agree with our position that the Executive parties have a responsibility to look after the most vulnerable people in our society.

Those protections have been secured with the allocation of £565m by the Executive to protect people whose benefits are under the control of the Assembly.

We secured an agreement among all the Executive parties to protect those on benefits including children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities and the long term sick.

We have retained anti-poverty measures and neutralised the impact of the bedroom tax and the benefit cap through a system of top-ups and flexibilities.

We also secured the primacy of medical evidence in disability benefit re-assessments.

We ensured that any proposed changes to the welfare protections will have to come back to the Executive and the Assembly for agreement.

We have achieved a unique set of protections for the people of the North which are in stark contrast to the cuts-driven benefits system implemented by the British government.

Sinn Féin is confident that we have achieved our objective in delivering a welfare system which is a safety net for those most in need.

• Conor Murphy is Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh