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Public sector staff deserve a pay rise

Like many, I was angry to see the DUP and Conservatives vote against lifting the cap on public sector pay last week. In the last few months alone, our emergency services have been under great pressure, with the terror attacks in Manchester and London, followed by the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.

As a former firefighter, who is married to a nurse with two children who are completing their GCSEs and A-levels with the support of fantastic teachers, I know what a boost for morale lifting this cap could have been for those on the front line.

Our doctors, nurses, paramedics, police and firefighters - to name but a few - found themselves in those nightmare scenarios you train for but hope you will never face, and responded with the highest levels of bravery and service during some of the darkest hours the UK has faced.

In the confidence and supply agreement between the DUP and the Conservatives, they even go as far as to say the two parties will work together to "consider options to support the highly successful reserve forces in Northern Ireland".

Apparently, a fair pay rise wasn't one of those options.

The retention and motivation of our public sector workers is key to its success. I call on the Conservatives and DUP to revisit and reverse their decision as a mark of gratitude.

ROBBIE BUTLER (UUP)

MLA for Lagan Valley

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