SDLP Brexit and Economy Spokesperson Matthew O’Toole has said politicians should be focusing on tackling the growing cost of living crisis rather than continued manufactured crisis over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He was speaking after electricity suppliers announced plans for further price hikes.
It follows sharp rises in the cost of gas for consumers across the Northern Ireland.
Mr O’Toole said while some politicians were obsessed with creating manufactured problems around the Northern Ireland Protocol, families across Northern Ireland were struggling.
The South Belfast MLA:
“While families across Northern Ireland received news today about yet another hike in their utility bill, the DUP and others are more interested in engaging in fantasy politics around the Northern Ireland Protocol. We have heard a number of unsubstantiated figures peddled in relation to the Protocol, but this hike in the cost of electricity is going to take real money out of people’s pockets.
“These are the latest in a long line of price rises and come in the same week when a Tory budget did nothing to protect the most vulnerable people in our society. The public are currently facing rising costs for essential goods, energy and fuel prices are through the roof, a cut of over £1,000 a year has been made to Universal Credit payments, national insurance is set to rise and their politicians are doing next to nothing to mitigate these issues.
“People in Northern Ireland are protected from some of the worst consequences of Brexit by the Protocol, and this week’s polls show a majority support the arrangement and an even greater number don’t want the UK Government to unilaterally upend the deal. The DUP wants to rip up the Protocol and add a whole new list of problems currently affecting Britain to the cost of living crisis we are dealing with here. This is even more irresponsible given the EU have provided a package of substantive amendments to the Protocol which should be capitalised on.
“The real problems facing our people on an everyday basis should be the primary concern in our politicians mind. People are concerned about how they are going to feed their families and keep the lights on, not the remit of the European Court of Justice.”