Cllr Shaun Harkin: "Why didn't the SDLP back these demands months ago when it was already clear Stormont's response was inadequate?"
Derry Councillor, Shaun Harkin of People Before Profit, has accused the SDLP of “election hypocrisy”.
Cllr Harkin's comments came after the SDLP announced that they would be exploring legal avenues to try and free up £300million of Stormont's block grant that's currently unspent.
Foyle MP Colum Eastwood insisted that if successful, the freed-up cash would be used to help struggling households with food and heating bills that have soared during the current cost of living crisis.
However, Cllr Harkin – who represents the Foyleside ward – blasted the move as a pre-election stunt claiming that the SDLP has had ample opportunity in the past to help those in need, only to not do so.
He said: “The SDLP are only now saying we are in a hardship emergency.
“In December they along with Sinn Féin and the DUP ignored a Hardship Emergency protest at Stormont and point-blank refused to back a People Before Profit motion in Stormont demanding the Assembly declare a Hardship Emergency with funding to help people in line with the scale of the cost of living crisis.
“Action on spiralling hardship should have been taken before the DUP's reckless collapse of the Executive.
“The hardship warnings were as clear last year as they are now.
“Why didn't the SDLP back these demands months ago when it was already clear Stormont's response was inadequate?
“Whether it's reducing rent costs, supporting real pay increases, backing workers rights legislation or taking radical action to protect the least well-off in our communities, it's not a priority for the Stormont Executive.
“This is more election hypocrisy from main parties determined not to take radical action that challenges the cozy status quo.
“It's clear cost of living protests and workers strike action are beginning to put pressure on government and corporations.
“People power action is crucial to reordering politics and priorities away from elites to working class communities.
“We need to bring people power action to every town and city.”
The SDLP hit back with Foyle MLA, Mark H Durkan, accusing People Before Profit of “flag waving” and challenged Cllr Harkin to stop shouting from the sidelines and “come up with some solutions of his own”.
He said: “The SDLP will not take any lectures on standing up to protect people who are struggling from a Councillor and party who failed to show up to vote against a rates increase from Derry City and Strabane District Council.
“While Cllr Harkin and his colleagues were busy flag waving, SDLP Councillors were trying to protect local people from being hit in their pockets.
“The SDLP is trying to use its influence at both the Assembly and Westminster to release this £300m and get it to the people who need it to help them pay spiralling costs for food, heat and petrol.
“I'd advise Cllr Harkin to come up with some solutions of his own, instead of continuing to shout from the sidelines.”
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