‘Tory cuts are totally unacceptable’ says Martin McGuinness
DEPUTY First Minister Martin McGuinness says the proposed level of cuts by the newly-elected Conservative Government in London is “totally unacceptable” and pressing ahead with them could lead to a “very serious situation” in the Northern Executive.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Monday, the Sinn Féin MLA said:
“In the aftermath of the Stormont House Agreement we were very concerned by the approach taken by the DUP in relation to keeping the payments of people on social security and future claimants. We made it clear that we would not proceed until such a time as those people were protected.”
He said that following a period of negotiations with First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson, he is confident of finding a way forward, noting that negotiations are resuming today.
While the Conservatives were returned to Westminster with an overall majority, in Scotland the Scottish National Party swept the boards with the Conservatives taking just a single seat. In the North of Ireland the Tories failed to take any seats and took just around 1% of the vote:
“The big complication is that the British Tory party say they intend to bring in €30billion more of cuts including €12billion in welfare. They have been refusing to answer questions by journalists as to where the axe will fall. That is something that needs to be of concern to all the parties in the Assembly,” he said.
“I come from the school of thought that our Government will be judged on how it defends the most vulnerable, the disabled and weakest in our society. And if that has to come out of our block grant, then so be it. We want to ensure we protect front-line services like healthcare and education”.
McGuinness says a united approach from all the parties in the North is needed:
“Speaking with one voice we can make it clear to the British Government that the level and depth of the cuts that they are proposing is totally unacceptable.”
Asked if more cuts from the British Government could leave question marks over Sinn Féin’s participation in the Executive, he said.
“If this British Government presses forward with the level of cuts that they have indicated I think that would be a very serious situation indeed – not just for Sinn Féin but the other parties also,” adding that such a move would seriously undermine the Executive.
McGuinness also said the proposed referendum on EU membership for Britain, which could see the North of Ireland forced out of the EU, is unacceptable to his party.