The Stormont MLAs preparing to vote against welfare reform are being "grossly irresponsible", according to Conservative Party spokesman, Neil Wilson.
"They'll try to sell their objections as genuine concerns but, really, these MLAs are motivated by political self-interest and they exemplify why the Assembly is not working properly", Neil remarked. "Look at the way in which Sinn Féin and the SDLP are abusing a mechanism designed to prevent sectarianism, by signing a petition of concern to block welfare reform. The parties at Stormont habitually exploit this method to veto anything they don't like."
"These MLAs won't tell people that they're actually preventing 100,000 of the most vulnerable people in Northern Ireland from being, on average, £38 per week better off, under the reformed welfare system. They won't tell people that two thirds of families which claim benefits here will be no worse off. They certainly won't highlight how their opposition to the Welfare Bill is already impacting services like schools, hospitals and roads. In particular, they'll not admit that the real reason they're blocking this bill is political self-interest."
"In Sinn Féin's case, they are in hoc to their party colleagues in the Republic of Ireland, who are more concerned about elections there. From the SDLP and the Green Party, we have hollow posturing to try and prove left wing credentials. Unfortunately, at Stormont, we have a broken system and parties who consistently duck the difficult tasks of government. The ongoing failure to implement welfare reform demonstrates why we badly need a new way of doing business and MLAs who are prepared to stand up and show some responsibility, for the benefit of people in Northern Ireland."