'The public are rightly angry': Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill urges DUP to end Stormont boycott
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First Minister Designate, Michelle O’Neill was speaking during the fifth failed attempt to get the Executive back up and running on Wednesday.
Various parties in the Executive heaped criticism on the DUP for its ongoing refusal to help reinstate the Assembly.
The DUP for its part branded the move a stunt and vowed to continue its nonparticipation, citing once again issues with the Protocol which resulted from Brexit, which the party backed.
Michele O’Neill warned that there were at present “tens of thousands of families living in cold homes, unable to afford to turn on their heating, and worried about the next bill coming through their door as we face the most difficult winter in a generation”.
She added: “Outside those family homes, our health service is in crisis, and the health workers are being forced to take strike action for decent pay and conditions, to defend themselves and the wider health service. It’s a disgrace they are being forced into that position.
“Already we are seeing the consequences of having no Executive. Education is being cut with youth services being targeted with job losses and reduced provision now being imposed against the will of elected MLAs.
“It is clear for all to see that the DUP’s political tactics is to abandon our people to a Tory government intent on inflicting cuts and austerity on the most vulnerable in our society. That strategy, if it can be called a strategy, makes no sense and has no purpose. Incredibly, it is dictated by a handful of loyalist bloggers,” she claimed.
She added: “Jeffrey Donaldson, of course, is not here with us despite being elected to sit in this Assembly. But I want to appeal to him and to the DUP MLAs who have come to this sitting, rethink your approach, reconsider your position and most of all to recognise the dire and deteriorating circumstances that people, your own voters are facing on a day-to-day basis.
“People need our help. They need us to do our jobs. The public are rightly angry.
“I want to make a direct appeal to the party opposite. Come back into the Executive so we can fight for and deliver £600 out to the thousands of struggling families who so desperately need it…. It is scandalous that people are being left high and dry.”
“If we had an Executive that money would already be in people’s pockets. And shame on the DUP for blocking it. You have walked away.”
DUP MLA Gordon Lyons claimed the recalled sitting of the Assembly was ‘another political stunt’ and called on the UK Government to get on with delivering the UK-wide assistance to all parts of the UK, including the Energy Support Payments.
“The United Kingdom Government has delivered additional support. Each of those has been delivered on a UK-wide basis, including the Energy Price Guarantee which was administered despite energy being devolved in Northern Ireland and the fact we have a different energy market to Great Britain.
"The Energy Support Payment is another UK Government scheme which they have promised to all citizens in the UK. They now need to get on with delivering it to all parts of the UK.
“The Government knows what needs to be done to restore devolution in Northern Ireland. Threatening an election doesn’t change anything, cutting salaries doesn’t change anything but what will unlock devolution is getting the Protocol sorted, restoring Northern Ireland’s place in the UK Internal Market and removing the democratic deficit.
“When that happens, we will not be found wanting. We will elect and Speaker and we will nominate Ministers.“