Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's sums don't compute

By Steven Agnew

It would appear that Sinn Fein have found their calculator and, having done so, realised that their sums don't add up.

First it was welfare reform. Sinn Fein signed up to the Stormont House Agreement and told us that they had reached a deal that would mean that no one would be worse off.

I pointed out that the welfare cuts amounted to somewhere between £115m and £250m and that their deal included a top-up of only £94m.

Following their ard fheis, Sinn Fein claimed that they had been tricked; they hadn't known the figures and constituents would be worse off under the Stormont House Agreement welfare deal.

I have to say I was shocked. Not at the figures, since I highlighted those from the outset and made clear that the claim that no one would be worse off was unjustified. Rather, I was shocked that Sinn Fein, with all their external research, could not do their sums.

Corporation tax is now under the spotlight, with Sinn Fein chairman Declan Kearney indicating that the party have changed their position and do not support cutting corporation tax.

Again, I have previously pointed out the cost of reducing the level of corporation tax to 12.5% is likely to cost around £300m per year.

Implementing this cut would see Northern Ireland losing this amount of money from its block grant; money that could be used to counter welfare cuts.

So, while those in Government have shouted that they cannot possibly afford to look after the most vulnerable in our society, they have brought forward proposals to cut corporation tax, which will quietly remove an even larger sum from the kitty.

As always, those who say that we cannot afford something really mean that they are choosing not to prioritise it.

The Green Party have been clear from the outset: protecting the poor, the sick and disabled is a priority for us; cutting corporate taxes is not.

Now that they have that elusive calculator, Sinn Fein appear to have moved to the Green Party position, apparently agreeing that we can either protect vulnerable constituents, or we can cut corporate taxes, but we cannot do both.

  • Steven Agnew MLA is leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph


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