‘SDLP should come clean on welfare deal’ – Murphy

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Thursday, February 26th, 2015
Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has called on SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell to tell his party the truth about a welfare deal he had accepted during the Stormont negotiations, which fell well short of the final package achieved by Sinn Féin and the DUP. Speaking to Newry Times, Murphy said, “Last December, during the negotiations, which led to the Stormont House Agreement, both the UUP and the SDLP agreed to a welfare package, which fell well short of what was subsequently achieved between Sinn Féin and the DUP. “The other three Executive parties later accepted on December 19th that enhanced package. The initial deal, supported by the SDLP and the UUP, did not include the supplementary payment fund – worth £125m over six years – or its protections for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities or the long-term sick. “The SDLP and the UUP did however agree a two-year loss of benefit sanction. They voted to strip claimants of their benefits for two years and are now posing as the protectors of the most vulnerable. In contrast, Sinn Féin stood firm and we achieved protections that are unique to the north of Ireland. He continued, “£565million will remain in the hands of the most vulnerable in our society over the next six years. We have collectively removed the Tory cuts-driven elements of welfare changes in the north of Ireland and we have put in place protections which, unfortunately, are not available to the most vulnerable in England. “However, it has become clear over the course of the last week that senior members of the SDLP including its Deputy Leader were not made aware of what their party had agreed. Murphy added, “It’s time that Alasdair McDonnell tells his colleagues the truth on the deal they agreed to which would have left some of our most vulnerable people with no safety net.”
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