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Row over MLA allowances legislation

The DUP and Sinn Fein are at loggerheads over Assembly members' pay legislation.

Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin said the DUP opposed changes to the allowances system which would see the powers to dictate MLAs' wages and pay increases taken away from the Assembly and transferred to an independent oversight body.

But DUP MLA Peter Weir said his party withdrew support for the passage of the Allowances to Members of the Assembly (Repeal) Bill at Stormont precisely because MLAs should not be voting on their salaries.

He claimed the result of passing the legislation would have been a vote on a new allowances bill.

Ms Ni Chuilin said: "Here we had the opportunity to repeal existing powers on this issue and transfer it into the hands of an independent oversight body.

"I think that is what people would support, I believe that is what they want to see.

"The DUP need to explain to the community why they fear this new arrangement and why without any explanation they have opposed changes to the system."

Mr Weir said the DUP supported the independent setting of MLAs' pay and allowances.

"Sinn Fein is sorely mistaken in believing that this Bill would have created an independent body. In fact, preventing this Bill from passing is the only position consistent with the principle Sinn Fein espouses but doesn't seem to want to practise."

He said the Bill simply repealed the current allowances. The Assembly would then have to debate a new allowances bill.

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