Ireland Sinn Féin seeks halt to bedroom tax during crisis

10:55  12 january  2017
10:55  12 january  2017 Source:   Irish Independent

Belfast power-sharing in crisis as Sinn Fein leader to quit

  Belfast power-sharing in crisis as Sinn Fein leader to quit Northern Ireland's power-sharing government has been plunged into crisis as the senior Catholic leader says he's resigning amid deepening tensions with his Protestant colleague. Martin McGuinness says in a statement Monday that he's quitting as deputy first minister of Northern Ireland's unity government at 5 p.m. (1700 GMT).McGuinness says in a letter to the Northern Ireland Assembly that Sinn Fein intends to trigger early elections.

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Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy. Photo: Getty Images © Provided by Irish Independent Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy. Photo: Getty Images Sinn Féin has called on the government not to implement the so-called 'bedroom tax' in Northern Ireland after the crisis at Stormont threatened planned mitigation pay-outs. Senior party figure Conor Murphy said no parties in the region wanted to see social housing residents lose out due to the policy of reducing benefits to those deemed to have spare rooms. His remarks came after a Stormont department confirmed that locally-devised support payments to around 34,000 householders could not be rolled out without the official endorsement of the trouble-hit Executive.

Otherwise known as the Social Sector Size Criteria, the government welfare reform on housing benefit will be introduced in Northern Ireland next month.

Extra money provided by Stormont to make up for cuts to the overall welfare budget at Westminster was a key plank in an earlier agreement to save power-sharing. It had been a central Sinn Féin demand.

But the looming implosion of the institutions following Martin McGuinness's resignation means the Executive is currently unable to meet to sign off the payments.

Who do Sinn Féin have lined up to fill Martin McGuinness' shoes? .
McGuinness says he’s looking towards a new generation.In his statement confirming his departure, McGuinness said that he felt it was time for a “new generation of republicans” to lead Sinn Féin in the north.

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