McCartney sets out Sinn Fein position on welfare

Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney.
Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney.

Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle, Raymond McCartney, has said information contained in a 25 page dossier released by the party on Wednesday proves the DUP “reneged” over the welfare reform bill.

Launching a dossier of exchanges between Sinn Féin and the DUP over the bill at Stormont on Wednesday, Mr McCartney said it showed Sinn Fein’s position on welfare was always to protect the most vulnerable people in the North.

“This dossier sets out the documentation which informed the welfare agreement on December 19. At all times Sinn Féin was absolutely clear, privately and publicly, that the agreement was to provide full protection for current and future claimants of benefits under the control of the Executive. These documents illustrate that this is the case,” said Mr. McCartney.

The dossier includes a paper from DUP MLA Mervyn Storey. The paper says that providing a new claimant system for future benefit claimants would be impractical within the agreed timescales set out in the Stormont House Agreements.

“This was confirmed by DUP minister Mervyn Storey in the Assembly when he said no one would be adversely affected by the changes.

“The protection of existing and future claimants was the basis on which Sinn Féin endorsed the Welfare Bill.

In the face of these blatant displays of bad faith and in order to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable Sinn Féin submitted a Petition of Concern and the Bill had been withdrawn

Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle, Raymond McCartney

“However, three weeks ago the DUP then attempted to roll back from the commitments made in the Stormont House Agreement by attempting to limit protections to existing claimants only.

“This is a clear example of DUP bad faith as these documents plainly demonstrate,” added Mr. McCartney.

Mr. McCartney went on to say that the 25 page dossier also proves that “key documents were withheld from Sinn Fein” during the negotiation process.

“We stressed that any movement away from full protection for current and new claimants would not be agreed by Sinn Féin.

“The dossier also shows that key documents were withheld from Sinn Féin during the negotiations.

“Despite a series of meetings between Sinn Féin and the DUP to resolve the issue, they continued to act in bad faith.

“We were committed to finding a solution but despite repeated attempts to arrange a meeting between Sinn Féin and the DUP from March 6, the DUP did not make themselves available and in fact failed to turn up.

Sinn Fein submitted a Petition of Concern over the welfare reform bill on Monday and according to Mr. McCartney this was because the party felt they had to act in order to protect the most vulnerable people living in the North.

“In the face of these blatant displays of bad faith and in order to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable Sinn Féin submitted a Petition of Concern and the Bill had been withdrawn.”