War of words over DRD’s decision to axe frontline services

August 18, 2014

Ulster Unionist Councillor for Newry and Mourne, David Taylor, has issued a scathing response to Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy’s claims that a decision by DRD minister Danny Kennedy to axe jobs and sub contractors providing frontline road services was “politically motivated and incompetent.”

Mr Murphy accused the Minister of choosing to make low-paid workers carrying out maintenance on the roads redundant “rather than trying to find other savings within his budget.”

“If other ministers can find ways of protecting jobs and services in their departments then the question has to be asked is Danny Kennedy’s decision politically motivated, incompetent or both,” he added.

The Sinn Fein MP heaped further criticism on Mr Kennedy, slamming his decision to abstain from voting on the last budget allocations only to “act immediately to cut jobs.”

“This follows hard on the heels of his threats to bus passes for the elderly. Maybe his party leader Mike Nesbitt should be asking is his minister up to the task” said Mr Murphy.

In an angry response to Murphy’s comments, David Taylor said the Ulster Unionist Party would be taking ‘no lessons’ from a Party “whose time at the helm of the DRD was beset by one calamity after the other.”

“Conor Murphy was the Minister of Regional Development between 2007-2011 and was widely believed to have been one of the most incompetent members of that entire Executive” said Mr Taylor.

“Indeed he was the Minister responsible for the water crisis, was found to have acted in a sectarian manner and who ultimately agreed the inadequate budget which the Department is now having to operate within.

“These are not Danny Kennedy’s cuts – they are Sinn Fein/DUP cuts. By cutting the DRD budget by over £15 million,  it was impossible that frontline services would not have been impacted or jobs lost. “Unfortunately, despite being warned about the consequences, the DUP and Conor Murphy’s more senior colleagues in Stormont went on to slash the budget.

“Neither Danny Kennedy or the Ulster Unionist Party has ever threatened bus passes. In fact we’ve always sought to protect them.

“Once again Mr Murphy’s ignorance has got the better of him as it was his Party who shamefully underfunded them this year. Nevertheless our older people can be assured that Danny Kennedy will do everything possible to protect their bus passes.

“I am not sure whether this is simply jealousy from Mr Murphy, given it is widely accepted that Danny Kennedy is doing a far greater job in DRD than he ever did, or whether this is a case of him trying to make a name for himself, given the fact that he has very clearly been pushed to the side-lines by the Sinn Fein leadership over recent times.”