Durkan vows to oppose welfare cuts

SDLP Foyle candidate, Mark Durkan.
SDLP Foyle candidate, Mark Durkan.

SDLP Foyle Westminster candidate Mark Durkan has pledged to strongly oppose any future welfare cuts which attack the unemployed, the sick and disabled, and hard-pressed families in Derry.

Speaking exclusively to the ‘Journal’, Mr. Durkan claimed Sinn Fein’s strategy to oppose Tory cuts to public services is flawed.

“The SDLP is the only party in the North that has consistently opposed the Tories’ Welfare Reform at Westminster and in the Assembly.

“We negotiated long and hard in Stormont House to get the best mitigation possible for the people of Derry. We also made the British Government acknowledge the unique situation here.

“Our party also tabled over 30 amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill in the Assembly, all of which were voted down by Sinn Féin and the DUP. These amendments would have seen a statutory entitlement to free, independent advice for claimants, further mitigation of sanctions and, most importantly, the abolition of the iniquitous Bedroom Tax.”

Mr. Durkan added: “The Tories have said their first act, if re-elected, will be to reduce the benefit cap even further to £23,000.

“Sinn Féin are saying that they are going to stop the Tory cuts. But they are also saying that if the Tories get in, that means no more Stormont. Well, if Stormont goes and Sinn Féin aren’t taking their seats at Westminster, then how will they stop the Tory cuts? ‘Stop Tory cuts’ by stopping Stormont? How does that work?”

Mr. Durkan went on to say that he thought it “critical” that the electorate return all three existing SDLP MPs to Westminster when voting opens for the general election on May 7. “The SDLP don’t oppose Tory cuts by just putting leaflets through doors. We voted against them at every stage in the House of Commons.

“It is critical that SDLP MPs are returned to Westminster to take a strong stand against further heavy cuts, not least in welfare.

“I am therefore asking for the support of the people of Derry on May 7th – where the problem is a lack of work, not lack of work ethic – to oppose any future cuts which attack the unemployed, the sick and disabled, and hard-pressed families in our city.”