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Northern Ireland Rejects £600m Tory Welfare Cuts Plan

Northern Ireland Rejects £600m Tory Welfare Cuts Plan

Northern Ireland has rejected  £600m Tory welfare cuts plan saying that it would ‘attack most vulnerable in society’

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Fein refused to approve the welfare reform bill and are being warned they’ll be left with a budget black hole

The Mirror reports:

It means the Coalition’s welfare cuts already being implemented in England and Wales may not affect those across the Irish Sea – but it’s prompted a political crisis.

By leaving the region’s Assembly with a £600million black hole, the blow to the Welfare Reform Bill has put politicians on the warpath with Number 10.

Unless leaders can agree a lasting deal within weeks, a senior civil servant could have to step in to take over budgets later this year.

So far Downing Street has shown no appetite for such a move, but it could be left with little option after today’s rebellion by Sinn Fein, SDLP and Green Party.

Sinn Fein shares power in the Assembly with the DUP, which supported the Coalition’s plans.

But Sinn Fein refused to back the Bill – and used a controversial ‘petition of concern’ to stop it from going through.

The little-used mechanism, which gives minority parties a veto on laws, meant the Bill was blocked despite more than half of Assembly members supporting it.

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness blamed “Tory cuts” and said: “The current crisis has come about solely through the actions of the British Government.

“It could only be resolved by the actions of the British Government.

“They have attacked the most vulnerable in society, slashed the budget for public services and undermined the credibility of these institutions.

“There is still time for the parties and the British Government to deliver a new budget that delivers.

“If a choice has to be made to stand side by side with the Tories or stand up for the people here, for our economy or public services, I know what side Sinn Fein will be on.”

SDLP politician Alex Attwood added: “Pull the Bill. Tell London to put their welfare penalties where they should be – in the bin.”