Stormont deal Sinn Fein blames Tories for its U-turn on welfare pledge

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams

Just weeks ago, Sinn Fein re-affirmed its pledge that no benefit claimant would lose out as a result of changes to benefits under Stormont’s control.

In an exchange on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show on September 8, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy reiterated the position spelt out in previous months by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and other senior Sinn Fein figures.

It was put to Mr Murphy that the DUP said that Sinn Fein’s position — that no present or future claimants will be affected by anything that Stormont controls — was unachievable and he was asked if he was going to keep that promise or if the party might have to shift its stance.

Mr Murphy replied: “No, that’s what we said and that was our understanding of the Agreement, and that’s reflected in some of the papers that have been exchanged.

“When it came to the working out of the detail, of delivering on that by the DSD minister, then what came forward fell short of what we had agreed so we want to get back to what we got agreed.”

It was put to Mr Murphy that his proposal just was not going to happen.

The Sinn Fein MLA said at the time: “The DUP’s view is that it can’t be done; our view is that it can. Let’s see can we reach an agreement in relation to that...”

Speaking on Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra programme last night, Mr Murphy said that the Government had threatened to “take control of welfare and impose the type of welfare cuts that the Tories were talking about on the Assembly against its wishes”.

He added: “What has fundamentally changed is the entire basis on which we made the Stormont House Agreement last December was the introduction of the attack by George Osborne on tax credits which will affect 103,000 families here and so while we could have stuck to our guns in relation to the welfare issue, we would have left abandoned completely those who were going to be affected by the tax credits issue...”