Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has vowed that Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for most vulnerable in opposing Tory cuts.
His comments come as the DUP said the Assembly was today entering “unchartered waters” after the Welfare Reform Bill did not go through on Tuesday.
Martin McGuinnessSinn Féin will not support a welfare bill, which does not contain those protections and we will not be part of any agenda, which punishes the poor and dismantles public services.
A petition of concern by Sinn Fein and backed by the SDLP and Green Party’s Steven Agnew effectively blocked the cuts from being signed off.
Mr McGuinness said the crisis being faced at present was not the fault of the parties in the Executive.
“It has been created by the austerity cuts agenda of a Tory administration in London, which is attempting to decimate our public services and punish the most vulnerable people in society,” he warned.
“They have already taken £1.5 billion from the Executive’s block grant. And Cameron’s cabinet of Tory millionaires have announced plans for further cuts of £25 billion to our public services and to welfare protections for people with disabilities, the long-term sick and large families.”
Mr McGuinness added: “We made it very clear in our election manifesto that the Executive needs a viable budget for frontline public services and welfare protections for the most vulnerable.
“Sinn Féin will not support a welfare bill, which does not contain those protections and we will not be part of any agenda, which punishes the poor and dismantles public services.”
The Deputy First Minister said he beleived the outstanding issues in the welfare bill can be resolved, but that this requires political will from all parties in the assembly to protect the most vulnerable.
“This is a time when the Executive parties need to stand together to defend our public services particularly in health, education and welfare. We need to stand up for the people who elect us, rather than acting in the interests of a Tory elite,” he said, adding:
“We need an immediate negotiation with the British government for a budget, which protects our public services and for fiscal powers that give us control over our economy.
“If a choice has to be made to stand side by side with the Tories or stand up for the people here for our economy and public services? I know what side Sinn Féin will be on.”