SDLP Cost of Living Spokesperson Matthew O’Toole has said the DUP has created a de-facto Irish Sea border when it comes to energy support for people in Northern Ireland.
Mr O’Toole said that by boycotting the Stormont institutions the party are making it harder to get energy support payments to families in the North that are being received in other parts of the UK.
South Belfast MLA Mr O’Toole said:
“For all the DUP’s talk about how people in Northern Ireland must be treated the same as those in the rest of the UK, they have proved time and time again how happy they are to throw that out the window when it suits them. No matter how hard they try to deny it, the fact remains that their boycott of the Stormont institutions is making it harder to get energy support payments out to families who desperately need them.
“People in England, Scotland and Wales received their first payment to help them pay their electricity bills last month, while those in the North have received nothing, with no clarity of when this money can be expected and suggestions it could even drag into next year. We have also seen a robust support package brought forward by the Irish Government in the South, which recognises the challenges people on this island are facing.
“Since the cost of living emergency began the SDLP has made protecting communities across the North our top priority, but despite the DUP sticking their heads in the sand on this issue, there is little we can do without an Assembly and Executive in place. All signs indicate that an agreement on the Protocol is edging ever closer and it’s time for the DUP to do the right thing, return to the Assembly and Executive and work to ensure families in the North get the same support as those in every other part of these islands.”