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MLA salaries panel to cost £100,000

By John Mulgrew

Around £100,000 is to be spent on an independent commission to decide on the salary of Assembly members.

A three-person panel will decide whether MLAs should have their pay increased from its current £43,000 and will also look at their pensions and allowances.

Under legislation passed in the last term, the Assembly will not be able to reject or amend its recommendations. In comparison, members of Scotland's assembly receive a salary of £57,000 with those in Wales earning £53,800.

First year costs for the panel are estimated to be £100,000 which includes a £19,000 salary for part time panellists, £60,000 for support staff and a further £20,000 for specialist advice.

After the first year total costs will fall to around £15,000 a year.

Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty said an independent panel was the only way to guarantee "transparency" on the salary issue.

"When the people are looking for openness and transparency the only way we could deliver that was to move outside the Assembly and establish an independent body," he said.

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