1 July 2015 Edition
Tory assault on North’s economy has implications for everyone
‘The current difficulties were not caused by the Executive – they have been caused by the extreme austerity policies of the British Government’ – Conor Murphy MLA
NEWLY-APPOINTED Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said there is a growing realisation across all sectors of society in the North of the devastating impact the Tory cuts agenda will have unless it is stopped.
Conor Murphy returned to Stormont as an MLA on Monday 8 June, replacing Mickey Brady who was elected as an MP for Newry & Armagh in the May Westminster elections.
Conor signed the Assembly register with Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin alongside Newry & Armagh colleagues Megan Fearon and Cathal Boylan.
Before returning to the Assembly, Conor had previously served as the MP for the area for ten years from 2005 to 2015.
He is no stranger to Stormont, having first been elected to the Assembly in 1998 and re-elected at successive elections before stepping down in 2012 as part of Sinn Féin’s commitment to end double-jobbing.
During his previous time at Stormont he served on the Executive as Minister for Regional Development, successfully blocking the introduction of water charges during his tenure.
Recently, he has played a central role in Sinn Féin’s negotiating team, heading up the talks which led to the Stormont House Agreement alongside Martin McGuinness.
He has become one of Sinn Féin’s key spokespersons on the campaign against the British Government’s austerity agenda.
• Conor Murphy
Speaking to An Phoblacht, Conor Murphy said more and more people are becoming aware of the impact Tory policies could have on the North if allowed to go unchallenged.
“There is a growing realisation across all sectors – business, trade unions and wider civic society – that the the policies of the British Government are not just about attacking the most vulnerable in society. This is a full-frontal attack on economic recovery and will impact on everyone on society.
“The extent of the cuts is slowly becoming clear. They have already raided £1.5billion from the Block Grant and now British Chancellor [Finance Minister] George Osborne has announced his intention for a further £25billion in cuts from 2015-18. That means an estimated £800,000 will be taken from the North’s economy over the next three years.
“Taken together, that amounts to an overall loss of £2.3billion to the Northern economy at the hands of a Cabinet of Tory millionaires in London who have no mandate from the people of the North.
“This goes far beyond the Tories’ assault on the most vulnerable in society and has implications for everyone as the Stormont Executive’s ability to deliver public services is consistently undermined,” he said.
The Newry & Armagh MLA has also been involved in building a broad-based alliance against the Tory cuts agenda.
“There is a need for a wide range of groups from across society – including trade unions, churches, political parties and others – to stand together to oppose this austerity agenda which seeks to slash public services and punish the most vulnerable in society.
“As well as harnessing the support of those groups in the North and across Ireland, an opportunity also exists now to build on the opportunities presented by the growth in support for those opposed to austerity throughout these islands.
“I was in London the day after I returned to Stormont for a series of engagements with a number of groups to discuss the need for a broad-based opposition to the austerity agenda coming from London.
“As part of those engagements I, alongside Pat Doherty MP and Paul Maskey MP, met with Angus Robertson, the leader of the Scottish National Party group at Westminster.”
Conor Murphy also said the devolved political institutions have a role to play in opposing the cuts agenda of the British Tories.
“As well as building opposition against the cuts among political parties and wider civic society, the debate must be broadened out further.
“A call has been made for a negotiation between the Executive parties, the Scottish Assembly and Welsh Assembly and the British Government and we need to make that happen. We need to be using the political institutions as part of the opposition to the cuts agenda,” he explained.
Conor Murphy said the focus of the campaign against the cuts should remain on the British Government.
“It must be remembered that the current difficulties were not caused by the Executive; they have been caused by the extreme austerity policies of the British Government and we need to see a change in that approach.”