Sinn Féin Block Welfare Reform Bill

Just when it seemed the Stormont House Agreement was sailing along nicely, a short strip of tarmac in North Belfast excepted, welfare reform has managed to scupper the show once again. This morning Sinn Féin announced they would put down a petition of concern on the final stage of the Welfare Reform Bill due to be debated this afternoon.


Discussions between the Executive parties and the Department of Social Development have been ongoing since the Stormont House Agreement in order to agree a package of welfare mitigations. This package was due to be added into the Welfare Reform Bill as a clause. Sinn Féin, who have been pushing for a £564 million package over six years, have decided not to support the bill as an agreement has not been reached on this package.


Contrary to much of the early reaction, Sinn Féin’s position has not changed. They allowed the Bedroom Tax and other controversial aspects of the bill to pass at earlier stages, with the proviso that these aspects of the bill would be mitigated satisfactorily by the package of mitigations.


In a statement, Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said,


“At Stormont House the five parties agreed a series of measures to protect the vulnerable and safeguard current and future welfare claimants under the control of the executive.


“However, the DUP have acted in bad faith and are now reneging on their commitments to protect the most vulnerable. It is their intention to provide only partial protection to current recipients of benefit and no protection whatsoever for future claimants.


“That is totally unacceptable. If the DUP want to strip benefits from children with disabilities, from adults with severe disabilities, the long-term sick; or push children further into poverty, then they need to explain and justify that. Sinn Féin certainly will not accept that approach.


“Until such times as the minister can produce a scheme for agreement which gives effect to the intent of the Stormont House Agreement by providing full protection for current and future claimants, Sinn Féin will not be in a position to support the Welfare Bill going through the Assembly.


“We are now pursuing a Petition of Concern.


“The DUP have attempted to effect Tory welfare cuts by subterfuge but at the heart of this crisis is the ideologically driven attack on the welfare state by the Tory-led government in London.”


The Welfare Reform Bill will still be debated today unless it is withdrawn by the Minister, Mervyn Storey. The Executive parties would then go back into negotiations to agree a package of mitigations that is acceptable to Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin should have the support of the SDLP in blocking the progress of the bill if it does go ahead.


Today’s move to block the bill is most probably a negotiating position but Sinn Féin have made clear their demands and if those demands are not met through a package of mitigations, they will explore all options to disrupt the passage of the bill.


If the bill does not pass shortly, the devolution of corporation tax as well as the other financial aspects of the Stormont House Agreement may not be implemented by Westminster. Complete failure to pass the Welfare Reform Bill will leave Stormont’s 2015/16 budget unsustainable and perhaps lead to an early Assembly election.


  • Ernekid

    It seems there’s only one option left to settle the Welfare Reform argument.


  • OneNI

    ‘with the proviso that these aspects of the bill would be mitigated satisfactorily by the package of mitigations.’

    These are changes to welfare that Sinn Fein have never themselves detailed and failed to table amendments to the Bill in support of?
    Insane that SF are maintaining the the current (old British) system of welfare is completely flawless and must be maintained. Not one single objective expert would agree with them.

  • chrisjones2

    Here endeth the SF Party Political Broadcast.

    Why have we two threads on this please?

  • barnshee

    Brilliant accountability is looming for the bufoons

  • James Martin

    Deeply depressing news this. A couple of points. Firstly, does Sinn Fein seriously believe that a Direct Rule Minister would give them a better deal than that which is currently on the table? Because if they follow through on this and petition the whole welfare reform bill it seems to me that is where we are inevitably heading. I cannot seriously believe that they think that a Conservative or Labour led administration would give a better deal- the Scottish Government could only dream of a deal as good as this. Secondly, the SDLP position here seems crucial. They are the ones who have proven to be the guarantors of the GFA and its most consistent champions. Yet here they have a choice- sign a petition of concern which will effectively lead to collapse, or don’t, which would probably incur electoral damage. I don’t envy the SDLP leadership on this one! Thirdly, I don’t think folks realise how dreadful direct rule would be for NI. We would be back to the unaccountable system which reigned for so long. I can’t believe that SF are risking that again.

    Thanks for the thoughtful piece Situation NI- as ever, good writing!

  • The other thread doesn’t have the detail of the package of mitigations and I’d written it before I saw the other.

    Where is any sign of a Sinn Féin bias? Which I must add, I don’t by any means have.

  • barnshee

    ” don’t think folks realise how dreadful direct rule would be for NI. We would be back to the unaccountable system which reigned for so long”

    Don`t think you realise how many people would be delighted to consign the Stormont crew to the dole

  • Framer

    Showboating. They won’t get sufficient MLAs for a petition of concern and they know it.
    Though if Basil wanted to pull the temple down before his departure…

  • chrisjones2

    No sorry …it was just the extensive quote form the excuses. Apologies

  • chrisjones2

    Sadly there is no accountability for any of the fools

  • Practically_Family

    No. Sinn Fein believes that a direct rule minister is a Brit.
    And everything is the Brits’ fault.

    As rallying cries go it seems to serve them fairly well.

  • Neil

    any vote taken by the Assembly can be made dependent on cross-community support if a petition of concern is presented to the Speaker. A petition of concern may be brought by 30 or more MLAs.[36] In such cases, a vote on proposed legislation will only pass if supported by a weighted majority (60%) of members voting, including at least 40% of each of the nationalist and unionist designations present and voting

  • Ernekid

    Just curious what would happen if the Assembly collapsed? would we have an Assembly election in May to accompany the Westminster election?

  • SDLP supporter

    I hope the SDLP refuse to sign the Petition of Concern and confirm that they will vote against the Welfare Bill, as they always intended to. Sinn Fein, the self-styled ‘brilliant negotiators’? Nah, I don’t think so.

  • SDLP supporter

    Sinn Fein will lose on this one. They are absolutely desperate to be in government in both jurisdictions on the island come Easter 2016. That way they can claim to their followers that they got a United Ireland, sort of. They can’t afford to let the Assembly go down and the DUP will be relatively relaxed because a lot of their top people will be back in Westminster come May 7. Even if all this is a ‘cunning plan’ to get an Assembly/Westminster election on the same day the DUP will absolutely refuse to go back into an Executive with them.

    There are parallels with Greece. That poseur Varoufakis was hinting at the weekend that Syriza could call another election or a referendum. That will terrify Merkel not one bit. She’ll still say ‘you need another 7 billion Euro from us and if you don’t implement what you signed up to, PFO’.

  • 13:41: Welfare bill blocked: Gareth Gordon BBC News NI Political Correspondent

    A valid petition of concern has been lodged in Stormont which will block welfare reform bill.

  • Also heard Mervyn Storey has not moved the bill today so it could be introduced at a later date. Of course SF could block it then.

  • Neil

    Yes to the average voter that would makes perfect sense from the SDLP.

    “We’re against WR, but we didn’t support a PoC so we could vote against WR which in turn means we get WR.”

    All the average person on the street will see is that the SDLP said they opposed Welfare Reform but by their actions ensured we got Welfare Reform (minus protections).

    It’s almost like a playpark. “We’re sorry about the name, we made a mistake, we’ll put it right as soon as possible. What, we’ll have a vote now? Sorry no can do my mum’s putting my dinner on the table.”

    The SDLP, the party where words mean more than actions.

    To your point below: should Stormont collapse (which I’m all for btw), the Shinners can throw all resources south to get a good result in the elections there. They will have a strong voice in the Irish government. The negotiations between the British and Irish governments would take place with a Shinner at the table. Real political representation beyond council level would boil down to the MPs at Westminster, of which the SDLP have 3. Lolz.

    Net result of Assembly collapse:

    SF: 5 seats at Westminster and potentially in government south of the border.

    DUP: off to Westminster in the hope that their 8/9 seats afford them some confidence and supply arrangement, which is very unlikely to come about.

    SDLP, UUP and Alliance: Organising the bin collections and in the SDLP’s case sending 3 MPs off to pee in the wind as the irrelevance they are.

    Sinn Fein, the self-styled ‘brilliant negotiators’? Nah, I don’t think so.

    Ha. Coming from the man who thinks not torpedoing a bill they oppose so they can vote against it but ultimately get what they don’t want, I’ll take that as a positive.

  • barnshee

    So the “fines” for non implementation continue?
    What a parcel of arxxxxxxx

  • banana man

    this is getting F’ing ridiculous, focusing far too much on the south and seem to be forgetting their supporters in the North, starting to look very much like a partitionist party they accuse the rest of being.

  • Tacapall

    What is the difference ? Thresa Villers can overrule any legislation or any action the elected members of the assembly make that she considers not in the best interests of the British government a mistake the SDLP will learn to their cost in the coming months. Allowing the assembly to fall and return to direct rule because of bad faith once again by unionism can only further the cause of republicanism.

  • Mirrorballman

    “Showboating. They won’t get sufficient MLAs for a petition of concern and they know it.”

    You were saying?

  • Mirrorballman

    Would assume so..Though still leaves us with the same problem. SF can’t sign up to these cuts pre southern GE.

  • SDLP supporter

    Neil, one way or the other NI is going to get Welfare Reform because neither of the big parties in Westminster has anything invested in this place. If the SDLP signed the Petition of Concern, it’s a tactical error, but not a serious one, IMHO.

  • SDLP supporter

    Sinn Fein still have the problem that the Stormont House Agreement on welfare reform is still a dog’s dinner. It’s a bit like legal aid. The lawyers can rail against the changes all they want, but Westminster is calling the shots.

  • Mirrorballman

    Won’t be so bad if we get direct rule. We’ll get Gay marriage, abortion, the end of silly conscience clause bills and “terrorist” playparks… We’ll be just like the rest of the UK….

    A unionists dream come true….

  • SDLP supporter

    Time will tell, but come April 2016 and a Dail election, I would not be so sure that Sinn Fein will be in government in Leinster House. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will do anything to stop them, even coalesce together.

  • Mirrorballman

    “Time will tell, but come April 2016 and a Dail election, I would not be so sure that Sinn Fein will be in government in Leinster House.”

    Maybe so but I can tell you one thing for sure. SDLP wont be in Government and neither will your pals in Labour.

  • chrisjones2

    Theres no bad faith by Unionism. SF have engineered a crisis yet again to pretend to the electorate that they are on their side. while destroying the economy and their childrens’ futures

  • barnshee

    “Net result of Assembly collapse:”

    All MLAs and familiars on the dole
    Professional (or other) skills and qualifications almost entirely absent
    See how long they last on £72? a week
    can`t wait

  • Neil

    Now, there’s an idea that might get people behind welfare reform.

  • james

    Curious that Sinn Fein are so eager to hand the reins back to Westminster, having spent so long crying about life under the British Government. Perhaps Martin misses his old job. Obviously it is much easier to play the anarchists than actually help to run the country. Same both sides of the border. Not really a credible option, are they?

  • SDLP supporter

    This is another On the Runs Bill-type disaster, where the ‘brilliant negotiators’ of Sinn Fein sat down with the enemy and were completely out-manoeuvred. In the case of the OTR bill it was the British government, with welfare reform it was the DUP. I got a leaflet at the weekend from Mairtin O Muilleoir telling me how great the deal on welfare reform was that Sinn Fein had negotiated. What has changed? Expect Kenny, Burton and Martin to give a good kicking to Adams and Mary Lou next Dail question time.

    The bottom line is that everything the SDLP said on welfare reform, both at Westminster and the Assembly, has been vindicated.

  • Practically_Family

    I honestly don’t see a downside to this politically for SF.

    Here they can claim to be trying to prevent the Bratash starvin’ wee Irish childer’. Across the water the population roll their eyes and and ask their MP if there isn’t something they can do to “get rid of them f***in’ Paddies for good” (the distinction between orange and green paddies will not be made in said appeal.

    Meanwhile Gerry and Co. Can make cameos at the local foodbank reminding everyone that it’s a British plot to starve them, just like Peel abd his cronies tried during the great hunger…. Or whatever. Votail Sinn Fein! Etc.

  • chrisjones2

    So if its valid then the Stoops or Greens must have signed it

  • New Yorker

    McGuinness said: “However, the DUP have acted in bad faith and are now reneging on their commitments to protect the most vulnerable.” Did he produce a written copy of the commitments?

  • Neil

    SDLP signed it.

  • Tacapall

    And did Sinn Fein engineer that crisis where Threasa Villers can overrule any legislation or any action that the elected members of the assembly make that she or her government considers not in the best interests of the British government. Of course you dont see bad faith why would you when you bring up all your posts concerning Sinn Fein, you obviously have a deep hatred of them, but sure isn’t that why Sinn Fein are elected by the people for, to supposedly engineer the removal of the British presence in Ireland you claim that will destroy, the economy, their childrens futures, well thousands of others dont agree with you.

  • james

    Perhaps if we were able to devote resources to sorting the genuinely needy from the benefits cheats who are milking the system, we could easily afford to properly support those who are actually in need (and probably make them better off). Obviously Sinn Fein don’t want to upset a key portion of their support. While we are at it, why not address the root cause of economic stagnation and high unemployment – the IRA with their much-lauded economic terrorism have much to answer for. Sinn Fein have profited rightly, though. Typical Socialists.

  • barnshee

    ” Bratash starvin’ wee Irish childer’.

    Whilst the cuts and absence of jobs ensure that their elder siblings sit “on the social” -to make sure the’ wee Irish childer’.don`t starve— a bargain of sorts I suppose

  • Mister_Joe

    Red Herring, James. Yes, cheaters need to be identified and weeded out and prosecuted, but study after study shows the cheaters to be a small percentage of welfare claimants.

  • Practically_Family

    Different argument really and one that applies not just to the followers of SF.

  • chrisjones2

    Yes they are …that is their mandate bit they signed agreements and oaths to try and make the system we have work and they are not doing that. At Christmas we supposedly had an agreement. Now we do not.

    Time to fold this and park the corpse at SFs door

  • chrisjones2

    So have the SDLP stood up to them or stooped down low again?

  • chrisjones2

    See earlier threads…a small % of a very big number is a big number. There are estimated to be thousands of them

    And it isn’t just cheaters. Why the hell should a Catholic family in a small house, say in in Ardoyne, not have a bigger house that is blocked by a retired couple whose children have all left home and who can be rehoused? Why should some people lie on benefits for 10 or 15 years because they simply will not work?

  • eiregain

    Ok so what is the SDLP goal in all of this, can kicking, fence sitting or just keeping their noses clean so that DUP and SF hash out the important stuff whilst they feed off the lies of the British and unionist media, they mop up the Naive catholic voters like an old worn out sponge. good work sdlp.

    Eastwoods attitude on Nolan last week was exactly what im talking about, they have no principles as individuals or as a party. STAND FOR SOMETHING other than your own job.

    Eastwood has his office in Shantallow/Galliagh area, I challenge anyone to find more than 1 person in that area that would tolerate you calling a martyr/political prisoner as terrorist. Its a complete lack of disrespect and understanding. Not born out of ignorance (which i could abide) but electioneering.

  • Cue Bono

    Sinn Fein believes that if a Direct Rule minister implements welfare reform they will be able to step back and claim “Not our fault guys. It’s all the fault of the evil Brits and their Prod lackeys*.”

    *We’ll park the outreach on that one.”

  • Tacapall

    That didn’t answer the question I posed but yes there was agreement, they say its the DUPs fault you say its Sinn Feins, but looking back at all the other instances of bad faith that has followed such agreements the odds are than the DUP are once again the defaulters.

  • Korhomme

    0.7% of benefits are fraud. (Voters believe it’s about 25%.)

  • Korhomme

    (And the real fraudsters are the banksters who evade taxes, and who are the people who brought this on us; and Cameron and Osborne following ‘austerity’ as an entirely political aim, not an economic one.)

  • Korhomme

    You hope. We didn’t get abortion in previous episodes of direct rule.

  • Cue Bono

    The Stoops body swerved the trap that the Sinners set for them.

  • Cue Bono

    BronzeEchoTwoFive Roger out.

  • SDLP supporter

    Diversion troll alert!

  • Korhomme

    I have a dream…

    In my dream, SF and the DUP are in this together. It’s a manufactured crisis, an effort to screw more money out of Westminster to preserve social security here.

    SF and the DUP, aren’t the evil, sectarian, thick, narrow-minded people as they are usually portrayed; rather, they are all people of honour, working to relieve poverty and social problems here.

    As I said, I have a dream….dream on.

  • Glenn Clare

    Did McGuinness get the shinner/provo rug pulled from under his feet over the weekend. On Friday it was all sweetness and light then we went from flip to flop.

    Now for direct rule with a British minister in charge with no get out of gaol extra money for the poorest with full welfare reform, water charges and the selling off of other assets.

    Speaking at the Sinn Fein/IRA conference in Londonderry on Friday.

    McGuinness said “Northern Ireland’s political institutions had been in a “very, very perilous situation” before the deal was reached in December.

    He described the agreement as a “lifeline”. A Lifeline, thanks to Sinn Fein/IRA it’s now on a life support system.

    He went on,

    “I want to pay tribute to our negotiating team for securing that formidable achievement.”

    He added that Sinn Féin has defended the most vulnerable “when no-one, and I mean no-one else, was prepared to show leadership”.

    The result has been a welfare system that is better than that in Britain, the deputy First Minister went on.

    “Let our opponents in the north and the south reflect on these very real achievements when, in their desperation, they attempt to blame us for Tory cuts which are beyond our control,” he said.

    Does this mean Connor Murphy one of the shinner/provo negotiators will now be only trusted to go to the shop for sweets, and bring back all of Peter Robinson’s change.

  • Zeno

    Are we not used to this stuff yet? It’s simple enough. Every few weeks there is crisis that could bring down the Assembly. Same old ,same old.

  • Glenn Clare

    Would love to see Marin Millers election blurb you mentioned he was handing out in south Belfast. Particularly the section on welfare reform and how good a job the shinners/provos did.

  • james

    Fraud, by its nature, is furtive and hard to detect. Pray tell, where does this precise figure come from? If you are telling us that 0.7% of total benefits claims are picked up and exposed as fraudulent, then that seems suspiciously low and would certainly warrant investigation. Is it an estimate? If so, by who and how measured. Is it your guess? As is, you are stating something as fact which you cannot possibly know. Best not do that if you want to be taken seriously.

  • SDLP supporter

    Here’s another potential scenario. Sinn Fein come out of the 7 May elections with four or five MPs, Cameron is back in power, possibly with DUP support. Part of the price of that support is that the British A

  • Cue Bono

    If Stormont collapses the southern electorate will rightly blame SF for bringing it down. Then they will have to ask themselves if they want a bunch of lunatics, who are willing to bring down a power sharing executive which they had praised to high heaven, in their own government. I think they will conclude that they do not. The end result for SF therefore would be that they are in government in neither part of Ireland.

  • james

    Well, possibly. However, things like disability allowances should be spread fairly evenly across all areas, rather than clustered. Unemployment blackspots, granted, probably will be more heavily focussed in certain areas. Incidentally, one wonders what decades of representation by SF in West Belfast has yielded voters there. Care to share one such study so we can all have a look?

  • Cue Bono

    What is 0.7% of £4.9 billion I wonder?

  • eiregain

    i may be trying to elicit a more meaningful response but i do so without provocation or personal attacks and a clear direction for my argument. You may disagree with everything i said and disagree with the conclusions. i merely asked a question and pontificated opinion in my area. hardly trolling. (typical finger in ears strategy)

    You and your party can dismiss the outrage now, come election it will be unavoidable.

  • james

    the sort of calculation best not left to Sinn Fein 😉

  • Korhomme

    I don’t remember where I saw this first. But Google brought up these for me:

    and I guess it was the first one of these that I’d read.

    BTW, I go to great lengths to ensure that any facts I post are as accurate as they can be; to the extent that I was called out as an ‘Empirical Reader’ a few years ago. I was also sent the relevant Umberto Eco papers on the topic. And it’s true, I can be very fact-driven at times.

  • GEF

    Could SF be playing a grand standing waiting game so close to a Westminster election. Hoping Labour wins the election and are sympathetic towards SF.

  • D99

    So no time to push through the Corporation Tax cuts plans then, as they’re so closely tied to ‘welfare reform’.

    Hmm. Perhaps we could use the money saved through not cutting Corporation tax to spend on schools or health. Or rather just not take the money from them to pay for the tax cuts in the first place. Surprised the cat’s not out of the bag on the highly questionable calculations on this one too.

  • Glenn Clare

    To the rest of us who work and have always worked and have never sponged from the state, or been an MLA driving a DLA car to Stormont.

  • Glenn Clare

    Here is Declan Kearney the shinners/provos chairman and his take on the Stormy agreement. He has a tendency to waffle on a bit, but he does mention some numbers so it must be accurate.

    He says, “As a result of Sinn Féin’s determined refusal to back down on this issue, we ensured a better negotiated outcome on a welfare system for the North”.

    So this is what they negotiated, “At its core is a six-year package of £565million to create, among other mitigation funds, a Supplementary Payment Fund specifically to protect children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities, and long-term sick.
    Bedroom Tax
    Additionally, no one in the North will pay the ‘Bedroom Tax’.
    Anti-poverty measures have been retained.
    The success rate for new disability applicants will be no less between the new system and previous”.

    They also got, “By standing firm against that London/Dublin Tory axis, Sinn Féin achieved a welfare system better than the system in Britain itself by an average of £94million per year, and which represents the per capita equivalent of a €2.2billion welfare fund in the 26 Counties.
    Progress was made in this key negotiation on welfare. The legislation passed this week will entrench welfare protections. But that cannot be taken for granted”.

    If ever a statement from the shinners/provos was on the money it was the last sentence above, it was is bang on the money.

  • Pasty2012

    It’s down to the DUP /UUP if they are going to collapse the Assembly and bring forward the Irish Language Act that the British Government signed up to.
    Only last week the DUP was putting a number of petitions down to stop amendments and can hardly now grip about it being used against them and their Tory Cuts.

  • Pasty2012

    Still the DUP and UUP political family circles will still be getting their £100,000’s of pounds each year and their likely increases. If they do collapse the Assembly, even for a short period of time in order to do the Tories bidding then the PUL need to ask themselves WHY they are voting for the DUP and UUP and watching their benefits being cut in half while the likes of the Dodds family are sitting back nicely getting their tax payers handout – different when it comes to them getting their money isn’t it.
    And if the DUP/UUP do go for the Westminster option they may regret that as the British Government had signed up to deliver the Irish Language Act, whilst their get out card was that it was passed to the Assembly it would have to be delivered if they are in control as it was part of an International agreement and the British wouldn’t be so keen on being depicted as reneging on agreements signed between governments.
    Will Gregory be the one to put the motion down to collapse the Assembly ?

  • Glenn Clare

    Here is Alex Maskey no less the chairman of the DSD committee endorsing the now Stormy House disagreement. so the list of shinners/provos lining up to tell the world how clever they were includes Connor Murphy and Gerry Adams. They all assured everyone that no one will suffer as a result of the Stormy House disagreement.

    Wrong wee Marty did, he looked like he had just been told that actually Marty you didn’t leave the IRA in 1974, when he was in front of the TV cameras today

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Threasa Villers can overrule any legislation or any action that the elected members of the assembly make that she or her government considers not in the best interests of the British government

    The Secretary of State has powers to block legislation in certain very specific circumstances (which do not included “the best interests of the British government”) but I can’t conceive of a situation where these would ever be used.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    The bottom line is that everything the SDLP said on welfare reform, both at Westminster and the Assembly, has been vindicated.

    The SDLP’s approach to welfare reform has been characterized by shameless dishonesty and a policy of wilfully misleading the public.

    The SDLP know full well that welfare reform cannot be amended by the Assembly. They know this because their own minister explained it to the assembly in 2007. Parity cannot be broken because this would cause a significant drop in the funding received from the British to run our welfare state.

    It’s a shameful kind of politics that relies on exploiting the public’s ignorance about parity and the role it plays in the block grant. If the SDLP at least explained how they would make up the funding shortfall I could at least understand it.

    The SDLP’s problem is that nobody really believes them. I think, up until today, most people believed that if there was a way to avoid welfare reform that SF and the DUP avoided it. They know that things aren’t as easy as the SDLP are pretending they are – which is why the SDLP’s clever device is unlikely to benefit them in the way they might think.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    there were no commitments. It was all smoke and mirrors, ambiguous stuff to allow people to save face.

    SF knew then, and they still know now, that their scope to limit the effect of welfare reform is limited. Something changed over the weekend that has caused them to do a second u-turn.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Please note that the Petition of Concern does not in and of itself block the bill.

    It merely makes it possible for the bill to be vetoed by community designation. Usually that veto happens, but it does not have to. SF could be using all of this as some sort of desperate negotiating tactic; the bill will still pass if they vote for it.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    The SDLP had to sign it, as they’ve been spending the past couple of months yapping to everyone about how Martin McGuinness wouldn’t sign it.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I don’t know what sort of crazy world it would be where the SDLP complained about SF refusing to sign a PoC and then refused to sign it themselves a few weeks later.

    Then again, SDLP-land is the sort of place where an SDLP minister in charge of the welfare state has no choice but to implement parity, but as soon as she leaves office suddenly everyone else who follows the same policy is guilty of an attack on the poor.

  • Glenn Clare

    I’m sure the shinners/provos are committed, especially their Chairman of the DSD committee, to ensuring that when we get through this impasse that the DLA and welfare reform actions will eradicate the suspected widespread fraud and abuse of the system.

  • Glenn Clare

    So let me get this right, you have no evidence of the DUP’s alleged bad faith. But because you allege they have form in alleged bad faith then the shinners/provos are not guilty of throwing the Stormont House Agreement into chaos, it was all the DUP’s fault.

  • Makhno

    James, have you ever read any statistics on benefit and tax fraud? You make a lot of sweeping statements, .7% is ‘suspiciously low’ , maybe it is suspect if you exist on a diet of mainstream media. And why should DLA allowances be ‘evenly distributed’? The stuff below cited by Korhomme is consistent with figures going back 20 years which show that tax fraud is often 90-100 times that of benefit fraud. Read some of that, and maybe also explain the IRA’s role in causing the Great Depression?

  • james

    Blowing up businesses and scaring off inward investment. Tends to damage the economy.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I’m actually not sure that they have.

    It now appears that SF have pulled this stunt as part of a strategy to deflect public attention away from serious allegations of sexual abuse due to be aired on the Spotlight programme.

    If that is the case, then by signing the Petition of Concern the SDLP are unwittingly participants in a conspiracy which is likely to bring down Stormont.

    This is what happens when parties like the SDLP pursue a dishonest policy, feeling safe in the knowledge that they will never be called upon to act to support it. They thought, like many of us, that they could safely criticize Sinn Féin for upholding parity knowing that there was no alternative. They did not anticipate that SF would bring down Stormont in order to protect themselves from abuse allegations. Their bluff has now been called – and it’s not going to go well for them.

    If Stormont falls it will be because of SDLP signatures on the Petition of Concern. How ironic.

  • Tacapall

    “The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland can veto any action of a local minister or any piece of legislation if she considers it incompatible with national security and can direct a minister or department to take any action to ‘safeguard the interests’ of national security. The Security Service, protected from any serious scrutiny, has been given strategic primacy in ‘national security’ policing. The Secretary of State also has powers to curtail or direct investigations and censor investigatory reports which touch on national security”

    So is she like Mrs Windsor just a figurehead who can whenever the need arises take advantage of her special powers. The best interests of the British government include its national security which at some point might not be in the best interests of Ireland.

  • El_Commi

    Why should people rely on facts when good old fashioned nonsense tells a better story?

  • Catcher in the Rye


    You claimed that she can block legislation “not in the best interests of the British government”. That claim is false. The interests of the government are not the same as the interests of the country.

    Naturally the British government retains a veto over any matter which could threaten national security. Are you suggesting it shouldn’t ?

  • Tacapall

    Your dancing on a pinhead Catcher the point I’m making is still valid your attempting to peddle the idea the best interests of the country means this part of Ireland when in fact it means the best interests of those people who David Cameron revealed to Mrs Finucane would not allow a public inquiry into his murder. Yes obviously I’d disagree with the British government having any sort of veto on what legislation or actions legally elected politicians make in Ireland. You cannot claim to have no selfish or economic interest yet hold a veto on matters of security that allow, an unelected in Ireland overlord, to stop any legislation or action in Ireland that she or her government or indeed those invisible people in Downing Street feel is not in either their own best interests or the best interests of their own constituents, best interests that in all likelyhood would not be in the best interests of the people in this part of Ireland.