DUP austerity stance ‘shallow’ - claims Durkan

Mark H Durkan
Mark H Durkan

SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has described DUP opposition to austerity as ‘shallow’ after the party rowed in behind the Tories to maintain the cap on public sector pay.

Mr Durkan said that the party would now have to explain to nurses, firefighters and teachers here why they aren’t worth a pay rise of more than one per cent.

He was speaking after a vote in the House of Commons on Thursday night following a motion tabled by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Corbyn had called for the one per cent limit on public sector pay rise to be scrapped. His bill however was narrowly defeated after the DUP and Conservative MPs went against it.

Mr Durkan said: “For all the DUP talk about ending Tory austerity, they’ve fallen at the very first hurdle.

“Voting against the proposal to lift the public sector pay cap and provide hard working nurses and other front line service staff with a pay rise of more than 1% is an endorsement of the worst excesses of the austerity agenda.”

Mr Durkan claimed that following the DUP-Tory pact “it looks like the DUP will be nothing but proxies for the Tories at Westminster, no matter what the issue.

“And where was Foyle’s MP? Nowhere to be seen when it came to the crunch,” he added. “This underscores the critical need for strong voices at Westminster, fighting to defend public services and public sector workers – especially when the votes are so close. There’s no use parties protesting on the outside when they should be influencing the result where it matters.

“Public sector workers have received a raw deal from Stormont. The failure of Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to bring a budget has made that situation even worse. The focus now must be to correct that incredible dereliction of duty by restoring the power sharing institutions as soon as possible.”