SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP has said that statements from Martin McGuinness clearly show that Sinn Féin is rattled and the SDLP is right on welfare reform, the National Crime Agency and the Budget.
Speaking to the Derry Journal on Wednesday, Dr. McDonnell accused Sinn Fein of being hypocritical.
“The comments by Martin McGuinness show that he and his party are rattled.
“On the one hand, Gerry Adams announces that he wants to lead an anti-austerity government in the South, while Martin McGuinness tells us an austerity budget in the North is ‘the best deal possible’.
“Martin McGuinness told his Ard Fheis that Sinn Féin would table a petition of concern on the bedroom tax in the future. Today, Sinn Féin refused to sign a petition of concern on the bedroom tax.
“Last week, the SDLP concluded negotiations and led on the National Crime Agency. Sinn Féin were shown to be out of their depth and out of touch with people.”
Dr. McDonnell had been accused by Mr. McGuinness of losing control of the SDLP but the South Belfast MP stated the opposite.
“I have made it clear that the SDLP will work hard to fully and faithfully implement strong elements of the Stormont House negotiations and work hard to improve its weak elements. The party has said that it reserves the right to table amendments to any part of the Stormont House proposals, including some of its proposals on addressing the past which would deny truth and accountability.
“Unlike Sinn Féin, the SDLP held the line on welfare reform. When we tabled petitions of concern, Sinn Féin backed away. When Martin McGuinness agreed welfare reform with Peter Robinson only for the rug to be pulled from under him by his own party, we didn’t agree the package. Before, during and since Stormont House, we negotiated for more and tabled amendments to the Welfare Bill to secure more again.
“It is revealing that Mr McGuinness throws the word ‘dissident’ around. He knows exactly what he is doing. It is a blatant attempt to demonise. It is as contemptible as it is revealing that Martin McGuinness is rattled.
“Sinn Féin know that the ground is slipping under them. The SDLP led on the National Crime Agency. The SDLP led on and opposed the budget. On Welfare, the SDLP continues to hold the line for social justice and a fairer deal for those in need. Yet Sinn Féin baulked on the NCA, accepted an austerity budget and seek to hide behind the DUP and their petitions of concern on key aspects of welfare reform. Rattled.”