Poor put at risk by Sinn Fein's stance on reforms
Sinn Fein's flip-flop on welfare reform will seriously harm the poorest people in Northern Ireland.
Money will now have to be taken from health, education and justice to pay for the allocations which will need to be returned to the UK Treasury (so-called "fines") in increasing amounts as the penalty for breaching "parity".
People awaiting vital operations, or a diagnosis, will find there is not enough staff, or equipment, to carry them out; crucial employment schemes setting young people on the way to work and well-being will be abandoned; as lights go unfixed and patrols go unreplaced, people will feel unable to go out safely.
This welfare reform, by the way, would give more money to the "seriously disabled". It would also ensure that someone who cannot take a job currently because they would lose benefits would no longer lose them and, thus, could start the journey away from dependency and into a career. As for "tackling child poverty", that is a lot easier when you do not pay hundreds of millions every year back to the Treasury in order to run a welfare system which traps people in poverty rather than helping them out of it.
No, if you really wanted to help the "vulnerable", taking hundreds of millions out of essential public services and programmes they rely on to pay for a complex and dysfunctional welfare system is the very last thing you would do.
It is what Sinn Fein has just done, of course.
Because it is not vulnerable people they care about - it is vulnerable seats.
IAN JAMES PARSLEY
Newtownabbey, Co Antrim