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Northern Irish parties say 'no thanks' to £1,000 pay rise amid public anger

The leaders of the five main parties said they would seek to have the pay rise deferred.

All the parties have said that they don't want the pay rise.
All the parties have said that they don't want the pay rise.
Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire/PA Images

THE LEADERS OF the five main parties in Stormont have asked for a scheduled £1,000 pay increase be deferred, saying that they “share the broad public dismay”. 

In a rare joint statement, the DUP, Sinn Féin, alongside the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party and Alliance, said that they all have a “range of concerns” about the recommendation of the Independent Financial Review Panel. 

The independent body sets the rules on salaries and expenses for MLAs.

According to a report published in 2016, salaries for the North’s representatives should rise from £49,500 to £50,500. 

The increase has prompted significant public anger in the North, with many venting frustration that MLAs could enjoy a pay rise only weeks after agreeing a deal to restore Stormont after three years of no government. 

“The announcement yesterday of a proposed pay rise for MLAs came as a surprise to all parties. We share the broad public dismay at this development, only a matter of days after the Assembly and institutions have been fully restored,” the statement said. 

“We are jointly asking the Assembly Commission that any pay proposal is immediately deferred until the work of the Financial Review Panel has been comprehensively reviewed, and a new panel has the opportunity to consider this matter again and produce a fresh determination,” the statement said. 

Various MLAs have voluntarily said that they will donate the money to charity. 

“We recognise that a number of MLAs and parties have indicated if the proposed pay increase cannot be halted, they will donate any additional sum to local causes and charities,” the parties said. 

The row has been one of the first major tests for the five-party executive, which was formed in early January after weeks of negotiations, facilitated by the UK and Irish governments. 

All parties have tried to distance themselves from the pay rise. On Twitter, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said that MLAs “had no input into this decision, nor did they seek it”.

“Given that the assembly has just been restored this is unjustifiable and should not be paid,” she said. 

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