Giving welfare power to Tories was a total betrayal
There is simply not enough spin in the world to make what happened last Wednesday in the Assembly appear the right thing to do.
The two majority parties pushed through a deal not supported by the majority of people. The DUP, Sinn Fein and Alliance handed over powers to legislate on welfare to the Tories.
The very same Tories that Martin McGuinness called Thatcher's children. The very same deal that Sinn Fein said would be a huge, serious mistake. The SDLP voted against it.
What this actually means is that the Northern Ireland Assembly no longer can act to support the working poor and vulnerable from the Tories' austerity agenda because the DUP and Sinn Fein, aided and abetted by their good friends in the Alliance Party, took away the power and gave it to David Cameron and George Osborne. How dare they send our powers back to the Westminster Tory government to implement their cuts on the already hard-pressed people in the North of Ireland.
We already know some of what is coming from the Tories' welfare and work reform - a benefits cap of £20,000, a benefits freeze for four years and the removal of a commitment to tackle child poverty, even though more than one in five children in NI lives in poverty. We do not know what else is coming - and neither does Sinn Fein or the DUP.
So why did they hand over our power? In the mouth of Christmas, during the Autumn Statement next week, will Osborne cut housing benefits? Will he cut disability benefits?
Councillor Joe Boyle, SDLP
Ards and North Down Borough Council