SDLP Communities Spokesperson Mark H Durkan says the wrangling over the extension of welfare mitigations sums up the dysfunction of the Sinn Féin-DUP led Executive.
Mr Durkan was speaking as the Welfare Supplementary Payments Bill came before the Assembly on Wednesday.
He said that the mitigations should have come before the Assembly long before the last months of the current mandate.
Foyle MLA Mr Durkan said:
“While it’s important that we supported the mitigations coming before the Assembly today to protect thousands of families in the North from the worst aspects of Tory welfare cuts, we should never have been in this position in the first place. This legislation should have been introduced by Sinn Féin Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey long before the last weeks of the Assembly so it could be properly scrutinised, not rushed through because of a failure of Sinn Féin and the DUP to reach agreement.
“When Sinn Féin, the DUP and the Alliance Party handed our welfare powers off to the Tories in 2015, the SDLP warned that this would have massive negative repercussions for people here. Despite promises from Sinn Féin that there was no Bedroom Tax in the North, we have seen people impacted by loopholes and only a last-minute deal by Sinn Féin and the DUP stopped the North feeling the full brunt of the Tories’ destructive policies.
“The welfare situation perfectly sums up the dysfunction that exists at the heart of our Sinn Féin-DUP led Executive. One cannot operate without the other and when they descend into petty political games and point scoring against each other it’s people here who suffer.”