Sinn Féin pledges to introduce £230 payment to tackle cost of living crisis

Sinn Féin has called for northerners to receive a payment of £230 (€273) to help with the cost of living crisis.

The party made the call when launching its manifesto for next week’s Northern Ireland Assembly elections, with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald saying the vote is “a real opportunity to move towards a better future”.

Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin was ready to reinstate the Northern Executive alongside other parties.

“On the first day after the elections, Sinn Féin will be ready to reinstate the executive and the Assembly and deliver for the people,” she said, echoing the content of the manifesto, which sets the cost of payment to £117million, as well as £6million for freezing public transport fees.

The Sinn Féin document says there “can be no delay or dithering” in executive reform to enable a £1billion investment in the NHS. It is said:

A new executive must be formed immediately to realize the investment in health and implement the necessary measures to combat the rising cost of living.

Sinn Féin is on course to become the largest party in the Assembly for the first time, according to polls, but is expected to work with the DUP to restore an executive. The resignation of DUP Prime Minister Paul Givan in February in protest at the Northern Ireland Protocol effectively brought the executive to a standstill.

On Saturday, DUP leader Jeffery Donaldson made it clear that his party considers the existence of the protocol to be an integral part.

“One of the main issues on the gates is the rising cost of living, but the protocol prevents the government from extending tax relief to Northern Ireland which is available in England, Scotland and Wales. Our road transport sector testifies that the protocol increases the cost of transporting goods from GB to NI by 27%.

“The shadow of protocol impacts all walks of life,” he said at an event in Derry.

Mr Donaldson argued for a tactical vote between the Unionist parties and warned that failure to do so would ‘send a message to Dublin and Brussels that it is business as usual with protocol’.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also argued for a tactical vote, but to win his party’s seats in former DUP strongholds.

He said: “In many constituencies where we are fighting for a seat it is with the DUP for the fifth seat so I think if people in most of these constituencies want to beat the DUP or send them a message is to vote for the SDLP and even to lend us your voice in some places.

“It will have the biggest impact on what the executive looks like, not just who fills that position.”

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Elaine R. Knight