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17 May 2022

Election battle heats up as SDLP attacks People Before Profit over its manifesto

Tierney says PBP promises won't be delivered while Harkin hits back claiming SDLP has to answer for its own part in Derry inequality

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Both the SDLP and People Before Profit have become embroiled in exchanging verbal salvos as the race to represent Foyle at Stormont reaches boiling point.

Another war of words has broken out between the SDLP and People Before Profit (PBP) as the election for the Assembly draws near.

SDLP Foyle candidate, Cllr Brian Tierney has said People Before Profit (PBP) have continually failed people in the North when it counts.

However, PBP's own candidate for Foyle, Cllr Shaun Harkin, hit back by accusing the SDLP – along with other parties – as being “responsible for runaway inequality in Derry”.

Cllr Tierney stated that PBP, who unveiled their election manifesto earlier this week, are good at making promises, but have continually failed to step up to the mark.

He said: “There were many promises made by People Before Profit at their manifesto launch in Derry, but it’s easy to promise people the moon and the stars when you know you’ll never actually be in a position to deliver on it.

“Instead of focusing on practical solutions and working with other parties to improve the lives of people across the North, in reality PBP offer nothing more than protest politics and hot air.

SDLP candidate for Foyle, Cllr Brian Tierney

“Any time PBP have actually been in a position to make a difference, to contribute to the greater good they have failed spectacularly.

“This is the party that advocated strongly for Brexit in the full knowledge of the economic hardships it would cause for families in Derry and across the North.

“We warned it would have dire consequences, not just financially, but for community and international relations and yet they championed it all the way.

“The party’s mask slipped once again earlier this month when the party failed to support tougher sanctions on the regime of Russian war monger Vladimir Putin who is committing horrific war crimes on the people of Ukraine.

“While the rest of us have come together in solidarity for the Ukrainian people, PBP have once again found themselves on the outside and their excuses just don’t wash.

“Even at council level in Derry when PBP have had the chance to help families dealing with the spiralling cost of living they have been found wanting.

“When the SDLP voted against a rates increase for families who are already on their knees, PBP, the supposed defenders of the working class, couldn’t even be bothered to turn up.

“This is the real PBP, a party that would rather be out protesting and rabble rousing than dealing with the issues impacting people in their everyday lives.

“Empty rhetoric won’t put any food on the table or heat a single home, we need to put our faith in parties and politicians who are determined to put people first and deal with the issues that matter.”

Cllr Harkin of PBP launched a stinging rebuke to the SDLP insisting that the people of Derry are seeing through their “say one thing, do another” approach.

He replied: “The SDLP are part of the political establishment and are as responsible for runaway inequality in Derry as the other big parties.

“They don't like it when we and others make proposals challenging the cosy status quo they've propped-up for decades and the "do-nothing" response of the Executive over the last year of an unprecedented cost of living crisis.

“For all their dismissal of People Before Profit, they've spent more time in this election attacking us than they have the DUP, Sinn Féin or even the Tories - while at the same time appearing to emulate People Before Profit colours, slogans and policies.

“Cynical spin, lies and misrepresentation is how political establishment parties operate. But what else should we expect when they proudly parade Fianna Fáil representatives, the architects of inequality and reaction in the South, around Derry in the middle of a hardship crisis?

People Before Profit candidate, Cllr Shaun Harkin

“The SDLP and the rest of the political establishment needs to be held to account.

“They've promoted privatisation of public services for twenty years, they've lobbied with the rest of the Executive for massive tax cuts for big corporations and they've voted through pay cuts year on year for workers.

“In the last year the SDLP joined the DUP, Sinn Féin and the rest of the Executive to impose a Tory real terms pay cut on health and social care workers. That's just not on.

“Along with the DUP and Sinn Féin, the SDLP refused demands for the Assembly to declare a hardship emergency in December. That was well before the DUP recklessly collapsed the Executive. Where's the urgency?

“The SDLP voted for a cut to private rent costs and then joined the Executive parties to overturn it the next day. Come on.

“Despite the Executive's criminal inaction in response to the cost of living crisis, the SDLP led the way in blocking People Before Profit's proposal for Derry and Strabane Council to utilise £3 million of unspent Covid money for an emergency hardship fund.

“The SDLP's "say one thing, do another" approach has been the same when it comes to Black Lives Matter protests, equality for women, climate action and Palestine solidarity.

“As we've said before, not being the DUP or Sinn Féin doesn't equal being a real alternative to a system rigged for elites, corporations and the politically-connected.

“That's why People Before Profit are putting ourselves forward. We want to amplify demands ignored by Executive parties and encourage people power action to deliver the change all our communities deserve and desperately need.”

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