Belfast Telegraph

Listen: Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams calls Paterson 'a tube' over call to axe MLAs' wages

By David Dawson

Gerry Adams called former Secretary of State Owen Paterson a "complete tube" after being asked about his comments on halting MLAs' salaries.

Mr Paterson suggested Stormont politicians should have their pay stopped if a deal could not be reached to end the devolution stalemate.

When asked about it in an RTE interview, the Sinn Fein president replied: "First of all, let me say that Owen Paterson is a complete tube."

Mr Adams also claimed that when Mr Paterson was Secretary of State, he introduced him to relatives of people killed in the Ballymurphy massacre. He also said the cost of the RHI scheme was £5billion, which the party has since admitted was an error.

"He was moved almost to tears by their account," he said. "(But) when he became Secretary of State a few months later, he completely changed and did nothing about the issues which they want dealt with."

Mr Adams also said it was "fair enough" if the Government wanted to stop MLA salaries.

The Belfast Telegraph yesterday revealed that Assembly members would get a £500 pay rise this Saturday - April Fools' Day.

The increase will take their annual salaries to £49,500 and comes despite the Assembly being effectively mothballed by the power-sharing crisis and not having had a full day's sitting for a number of months.

The rise takes effect automatically under rules laid down by the IFRP, an independent panel set up to determine MLA pay and expenses.

Mr Paterson made his comments in the House of Commons earlier this week.

He asked current Secretary of State James Brokenshire: "Would you agree that there is one measure that would put pressure on the parties to come back to the talks and might crystallise minds, and that would be to make it clear that should the elected members not form the Executive after a lengthy period of negotiation ,their salaries and expenses will not be paid from the public purse?"

Mr Brokenshire pledged to keep "all options under consideration" in his efforts to form a new Executive.

Meanwhile, senior Sinn Fein figures joined around 300 anti-Brexit protesters who marched on Stormont yesterday.

Campaigners set up a mock customs checkpoint to highlight concerns about a hardening of the Irish border.

The protest was dismissed by DUP MLA Christopher Stalford, who wrote on Twitter: "SF mobile am dram troupe won't hold back the tide.

"We went in as one country, we leave as one country."

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