Matt Collins said: “Sinn Féin have a real brass neck accusing PBP of risking jobs because we opposed an increase in the rates upon the ordinary people of this city. Belfast City Council froze rates for a number of years. Sinn Féin supported the freeze then. Were they risking jobs at that time as well? Of course not. But consistency is not the party’s strongest suit. Nor is defending the interest of their constituents. They are quite happy to consider cutting corporation tax, which will risk as much as £400 million worth of jobs being cut. Its one rule for the Shinners and another for everyone else. Embarrassing stuff.”

“Anyone familiar with the modus operandi of Sinn Féin will know that this is a textbook case of them distorting other people’s positions as opposed to stating their own. Instead of defending their rationale for increasing rates, a position they know will be unpopular with their jaded support base, they have thrown mud and attempted to distort PBP’s opposition to a further hike in costs for working class people.”

 “Here is the truth: this week in Belfast City Council both the DUP and Sinn Féin proposed different versions of a rate increase; People Before Profit wholeheartedly opposed both of these initiatives. We did so because it is simply obscene that at a time of austerity, when working people are suffering low wages, cutbacks and reductions in benefits, the only strategy that the political establishment can come up with to alleviate this is to continue to place the burden of payment for services further onto working class people.”

 “The same parties who this week pushed for a rise in rates were those who signed up to the Fresh Start Agreement, which delivered thousands of public sector job losses.  They are also the most steadfast champions of a cut in taxes for corporations and big business, and all the while have been overseeing the disastrous RHI scandal, set to burn hundreds of millions of pounds in taxpayer’s money. Sinn Féin might chose to forget these circumstances, but we don’t. In this context it is obscene to ask the ordinary people of this city to cough up more.”

 “Worse still is that Sinn Féin is now contending that it is only through a further rise in rates that services can be funded; they are simply robbing from Peter to pay Paul. Not only are they lying through their teeth, but they are in fact blackmailing working class people into accepting their enthusiastic embrace of neo-liberal economics, where the burden of payment for services is pressed onto working people while the rich are let off the hook.”

 “People Before Profit has no truck with this approach to local government. In fact, we view the current rates system as wholly inadequate and are for a complete overhaul of the rates system and its replacement with a progressive local income tax system, which would raise rates on the basis of income and profits, rather than the size or value of a property. This would ultimately be a more equal means of collecting money for council, where those with the broadest shoulders would hold the biggest burden. Anywhere else in the world that’s called leftwing politics, in Belfast City Council its called PBP. Indeed, south of the border— where they have not yet jumped into bed with the establishment— Sinn Féin can often be found making similar proposals. My message to Sinn Féin is simple— pull the other one, people aren’t stupid.”