Tag Archives: East Antrim MLA

Rivals pile pressure on Sinn Fein over ‘U-turn’ on welfare reform

As the first day of a two-day welfare reform debate ended last night, Sinn Fein faced accusations from parties north and south of the border that it has done a U-turn on the issue. During the first part of a mammoth Assembly debate on one of the most significant pieces of legislation to come before MLAs, Sinn Fein faced repeated accusations that it has brought Stormont to the brink of collapse only to finally agree to welfare reforms extending to Northern Ireland. But as Sinn Fein faced fierce criticism from the SDLP, Green Party and even Fianna Fail, it was striking that the DUP — which is eager to keep Sinn Fein on board to get the bill through the Assembly — restrained itself from making life difficult for Sinn Fein. The debate – which went ahead despite a highly unusual mass DUP veto of amendments to the bill which … Continue reading

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Frightening cost of welfare deal will hit services, warns Allister

Despite more than 18 hours of debate on the Welfare Reform Bill, many questions still remain unanswered, Jim Allister has said. The legislation passed through consideration stage on Wednesday night with the support of the DUP and Sinn Fein and it will return to the Assembly for further consideration stage in a fortnight. Mr Allister said that the seemingly open-ended financial commitment which Stormont is making to benefit claimants was “frightening”, given that it would come at the expense of other public services in Northern Ireland. He said it was clear that “while the Assembly is legislating for welfare reform, at the same time it is preparing to divert money from schools and hospitals to nullify its effect. It could only happen in Stormont”. The North Antrim MLA added: “Sinn Fein boasts £565m will be spent on this exercise. “The only certainty is that this money will be siphoned off … Continue reading

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Minister unveils new A8 Ballynure bypass

The Ballynure bypass section of the A8 Larne to Belfast dual carriageway scheme has been officially opened by Transport Minister Danny Kennedy. The £130m project, which is expected to be completed this spring, involves upgrading 14.4km of the existing A8, between Coleman’s Corner roundabout and Ballyrickard Road, to dual carriageway standard. On Monday, Mr Kennedy cut the ribbon on 3.4km Ballynure bypass section of the scheme, which he said “represents a very significant stage in the overall works”. Speaking at the event, the Minister told the Times he was “very impressed” by the project and described it as “a major engineering feat”. The Ulster Unionist representative added: “This new bypass will remove traffic which travels through the village of Ballynure, and I think everyone will acknowledge the significant benefits this will bring to both the residents in Ballynure and the travelling public. “This will be a huge benefit to the … Continue reading

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[Updated] Sinn Féin behaves like the Tories in North and talks like Syriza in …

To be fair, I nicked that headline from Derek Mooney, a former FF special advisor, so there is an evident and intended spin to it. And yet it contains more than just a grain of truth to it. Having nearly collapsed the Assembly [Aye right! – Ed] Sinn Fein accepted the outline of a deal it had originally co-produced with the DUP with very little clear detail on what extra money would be forthcoming. Courtesy of Gerry Moriarty in the Irish Times, Martin McGuinness was playing one of those eccentric word games SF is so fond of playing to suggest that somehow the tabling of amendments to the Welfare Bill was a case of dissident SDLP MLAs defying the party leader [Is that Gerry, or Al? – Ed]. “The SDLP dissidents are clearly now in charge of the party and are prepared to risk the collapse of the Stormont House Agreement – and thereby the … Continue reading

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DUP defends mass veto of attempts to change welfare bill

The early stages of yesterday’s mammoth welfare reform debate focused on an extraordinary mass-veto of attempts to change the Welfare Reform Bill. The DUP tabled almost 50 petitions of concern against all but two amendments tabled by non-DUP members. Those petitions — which only the DUP can lodge without another party’s support, because of its numerical strength — forced a cross-community vote meaning that the DUP, with a majority of unionist MLAs, could stop each of the proposals. Despite that action, the debate on each of the amendments still went ahead. Green Party leader Steven Agnew condemned the widespread use of the controversial mechanism, likening the DUP’s actions to those of states such as North Korea, which circumvent the normal democratic processes. Mr Agnew, who tabled more amendments than any other MLA, told the Assembly that “49 petitions of concern are binding the hands and feet of this Assembly”. The … Continue reading

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