Despite resistance from unionist councillors, a motion opposing “Tory welfare cuts” and the impact they will have on society’s “most vulnerable” was carried at a meeting of the Mid Ulster District Council.
Introduced by Sinn Fein’s Linda Dillon at the September 25 meeting, the motion called for the shadow council to “totally oppose the imposition of Tory welfare cuts”, and in her supporting statement the Coalisland-based councillor said: “The reason we are bringing this motion to council is if we allow this to go ahead 5,200 individuals on DLA in Mid-ulster will be affected.
Cllr Dillon, added: “19,100 families in receipt of child benefit and 13,400 families who rely on tax credits will see a reduction in their income, and these are only some of the statistics on the drastic impact of welfare cuts.
“These cuts will effect every community - nationalist, unionist, republican, loyalist and others,” she said. “We have a responsibility to protect our constituents.”
Dealing with “some of the high level figures quoted in the media”, Sinn Fein’s Cllr Sean McGuigan seconded the motion.
He said: “It has been stated that failing to accept these cuts could mean the loss of £1b and yet... according to NICVA the full effect of these welfare cuts will be conservatively taking £750m out of the economy here.”
Cllrs Mulligan and Wilson of the UUP proposed an amendment commending the coalition’s attempts to “balance the books after the debacle of the Labour administration” and recommend “that the NI Executive determine to follow that model and implement the relevant cuts so as to ward off any further major financial penalties”.
The amendment, ruled as “directly negative to the motion” by chair Cathal Mallaghan, was thrown out.
The DUP’s Cllr Shiels also spoke against the motion, saying: “It’s the deepest hypocrisy to hear Sinn Fein talk about cuts when their grandstanding is costing £200m”.
Independent councillor Barry Monteith supported the motion, describing “Tory welfare cuts” as being “driven by a Victorian workhouse mentality”.
The vote was 23 for and 14 against the motion. A letter will be written to the office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister informing them of this.