Belfast Telegraph

Fed-up residents of Shankill and Falls left united in frustration

By Christine Carrigan

As the latest deadline for an agreement to restore the power-sharing Executive passed yesterday, fed-up voters voiced their disillusionment with the process.

In March, the public went to the polls for the Stormont Assembly election, with the 64.8% turnout the highest since 1998 - the year the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

However, the ensuing stalemate between the DUP and Sinn Fein has plunged Northern Ireland into political limbo and led to bitter frustration.

Even more infuriatingly for the public, MLAs have been getting paid since March 2 - even though the Assembly hasn't sat a single day.

Residents from the loyalist heartland of the Shankill Road and the republican stronghold of the Falls Road yesterday gave the Belfast Telegraph their views on the deadlock.

One resident from the Falls area, Chris Piper (34), said he had voted for the first time in 15 years in March.

But he expressed deep frustration at how the Conservatives had been backed by the DUP in this week's vote for a 1% pay cap for public sector workers.

He said: "That whole thing - blocking the 1% pay increase for services over here, and politicians over here are getting a year on year increase? They don't care!

"It baffles me.

"If your community has voted for you, then you have an obligation to that community.

"They shouldn't be getting paid for not working."

Housing Executive worker Helen Campbell (44) said: "I'm really fed up, just like everyone, and they shouldn't be getting paid for doing nothing.

"I think they are dragging things out, which isn't good for anyone here."

One male resident from the Falls Road, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "I am disgusted.

"What do they do for us?

"They aren't doing anything for the ordinary people of west Belfast or the ordinary people anywhere.

"They sure as hell shouldn't be getting paid for it."

Retired Jim McKay from the Shankill Road said: "It's ridiculous, the whole set-up. I'm fed up.

"They shouldn't be getting paid. If I didn't go to work, I wouldn't get paid.

"Why is it any different for them?"

June Cochran (66) said: "They are like a bunch of children up there. They really don't care about ordinary people.

"They have just got a billion pounds and yet they voted to cut nurses' pay."

Jane added: "They shouldn't be paid, they aren't working for us."

One female resident from the Shankill, who didn't want to be named, said: "It is an absolute disgrace.

"I am fed up with this whole thing.

"How have they not come to an agreement already?

"If they stopped paying them, they would come to an agreement right and quick."

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