McCann misleading on welfare reform

A chara,

I want to refute and reject the misleading interpretation peddled by your columnist, Eamonn McCann, in your paper of Tuesday 16th Oct in respect of comments I made during the Assembly debate on Welfare Reform the previous week.

Eamonn McCann is well-known as a political opponent of Sinn Féin but I would have thought that, even if only to preserve his own integrity, rather than misrepresent the party’s position through a selective quote from a 45 minute contribution, he would at least have acknowledged our public and robust opposition to the current Welfare Reform Bill. As a political opponent Eamonn is entitled to interpretative latitude when attacking Sinn Féin policies and actions but as a columnist it would be expected that he keep to fact and context.

My comment about not wishing to ‘create a crisis’ in the Executive was simply an affirmation of our obligations to the electorate to act responsibly by scrutinising legislation in an effort to amend or oppose it where possible, and to protect the vulnerable in society and frontline services where it is within our gift to do so.

Unlike Eamonn, Sinn Féin will continue to take practical action to oppose the Welfare Reform Bill in its current form. And I can assure your readers that all options are still on the table, including bringing forward a Petition of Concern. But make no mistake about it, it will not make the Tory cuts agenda go away.

Sinn Féin will decide our most appropriate action on the Welfare Reform Bill and any other Tory legislation, at any given juncture – but we certainly will not be taking our lead from Eamonn McCann whose record has always been more rhetoric than action and has not resulted in preventing one pound in Tory cuts.

Is mise le meas

Alex Maskey,

MLA (South Belfast)