SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan has said that the free books for babies scheme is the latest victim of the political stalemate at Stormont and Tory austerity.
He was speaking after the Department of Education said it could no longer fund the Book Start Baby programme.
It is the latest in a number of vital projects to be axed by the department due to budget pressures at Stormont.
West Tyrone MLA Mr McCrossan said:
“The level of cuts we are seeing in our education system are causing concern in schools and homes across the North, with serious consequences for the standard of education we are providing to our young people. We have already seen counselling services and free school meals taken away from our children and now newborns will no longer receive these books. Many people are rightly asking themselves what’s going to be next.
“We will be the only part of these islands not providing our children with free books and that should shame those responsible for this decision. At a time when many families are facing unimaginable financial pressures and the number of books in the average household has fallen dramatically, this scheme ensured that books would be provided to children, which we know helps their development and can foster a love of reading that stands them in good stead throughout their lives.
“The DUP’s ongoing unjustified boycott of the Stormont institutions means that we have no Ministers in place to reverse these decisions or MLAs to highlight just how short-sighted and unfair they are. We have been left to the mercy of a budget imposed by a Tory government who have repeatedly proven how little they care about people here. Once again our children are suffering because of political failure, families here deserve so much better and the SDLP will keep working towards our vision of a New Ireland that helps every child reach their full potential.”