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Emergency 'bedroom tax' legislation passed by Northern Ireland Assembly

By Noel McAdam from Stormont

Mitigation measures to prevent Northern Ireland homes being hit with the so-called bedroom tax have been passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In the first main debate of the day - after Sinn Fein triggered the collapse of the devolved institutions by not nominating a deputy First Minister - MLAs were told 34,000 claimants had been "terrified" when the DUP indicated last week it could not bring the regulations forward.

The claim came from the SDLP Nichola Mallon. She said: "There are some issues which are too important to play politics with. Is it any wonder people don't have faith in politics here?"

Alliance leader Naomi Long said her party would support the regulations with significant reservations because they have not had the usual Assembly scrutiny.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt urged MLAs to "maintain a tone" in the assembly that "would be well received by the public".

He asks what direction the DUP and Sinn Fein are steering Northern Ireland in, given that there is "no budget".

He adds: "Where are they taking the vulnerable of Northern Ireland?"

Following an oral vote emergency legislation was passed by the Assembly.

Earlier Speaker Robin Newton reminded Communities Minister Paul Givan that Monday was not the "last day of the Assembly" as business was scheduled for Tuesday.

Should The Executive Office remain vacant by the close of business on Monday, the institutions will be dissolved by the end of the week after James Brokenshire calls an election.

More: Sinn Fein triggers collapse of Northern Ireland power-sharing institutions - Assembly election set to be called

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