SDLP Stormont Leader Matthew O’Toole MLA has said that without political intervention public services in Northern Ireland will sustain irreversible damage that will fall hardest on those least able to cope.
The South Belfast MLA was speaking after the Northern Ireland Public Sector Chairs’ Forum wrote to the Secretary of State regarding the financial position of public services.
Matthew O’Toole MLA said:
“Our public services are on the verge of sustaining irreparable damage that will inflict irreversible hardship on people and communities least able to cope with it. It is, frankly, outrageous in those circumstances that political debate in Northern Ireland is totally consumed with whether or not we can have a government rather than what that government could do for people most in need.
“Public sector cuts are a political choice in response to the challenges our society faces. But it is a choice that should be faced down by political leaders elected to our Assembly, not waved through by unaccountable Ministers and junior civil servants in London.
“The chairs of public sector bodies are right to challenge the scale of cuts and the impact it will have on the delivery of public services. There is no mandate for that position and Assembly parties should take that power back into their own hands by forming an Executive immediately.
“The SDLP’s view is that a profound transformation of public services in a new Ireland is the most fundamental way to appropriately address the challenges we face. But in the here and now, we are ready to play our full role in the restoration of the democratic institutions to address the crisis facing people.”