Local MLAs back pay cut decision as Stormont stalemate continues

Stormont.

The decision by the Secretary of State to cut salaries of MLAs has been widely backed by locally elected members of the Assembly.

In a statement to MPs, Secretary of State Karen Bradley said pay would be by cut by 27.5 per cent in two stages, reducing it from £49,500 to £35,888.

Local MLAs have voiced support for the decision which has been made in a bid to restore the Executive.

DUP MLA, Carla Lockhart said: “I fully understand the need for the Secretary of State to make this decision.

“Whilst it affects all MLAs personally it is understandable given the length of time there has been no functioning Executive.

“The blame for this lies squarely with Sinn Fein. They brought down the previous Executive using RHI as their smokescreen whilst their own members had lobbied to keep the scheme open. Sinn Fein need to stop hurting the most vulnerable in our society. We need ministerial decisions made for the sake of our Education, Health and Infrastructure portfolios to allow expenditure and investment.”

Responding to Ms Bradley’s decision, Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd said: “I fully support the cut to MLA wages. We have been calling for this and believe it should have happened much sooner.

“I also fully support equality, respect and integrity the absence of which is why we do not have an Assembly or Executive.”

Meanwhile, SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly called on the British and Irish Governments to agree a package of legislation between them to get Stormont back up and running.

She said: “The truth remains, without a functioning Assembly, MLAs are not fulfilling the full job that they were elected to do. As the SDLP has made clear time and time again, MLA pay should be cut to reflect that fact and we welcome this move from the Secretary of State.

“The SDLP has been clear time and time again, we are ready and willing to engage. We did not create this political vacuum and we have absolutely no desire to remain in it. It is simply ridiculous that there is no process in place to even try and resolve the problems and tackle the issues. Parties and the public must be given clarity on the next steps and the road ahead and the SDLP will be fully engaged in any process.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie also backed the action, he said: “The decision to cut MLAs pay has been a long time coming given the Rainey Report - commissioned by the Secretary of State - recommended cutting MLA pay almost nine months ago.”

“I have been clear on this issue as has the Ulster Unionist Party. Although I continue to work for the constituents of Upper Bann I do not complete the legislative part of my employment. Therefore it is right that my wages and that of my colleagues and other MLAs is cut.”

“I remain concerned about legislation giving unelected Permanent Secretaries sweeping powers to make decisions normally assigned to an elected Minister.

“I fully understand the reasons for this legislation but it is important to know how these Permanent Secretaries will be held accountable for their decisions.”

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