Belfast Telegraph

Across the political divide some agreement at long last... over pay cuts

By Lauren Harte

Catherine Kelly

Sinn Fein

I welcome the reduction in MLA pay today but it should have happened months ago.

Sinn Fein told Karen Bradley that on several occasions but it is clear she was reluctant to move because of resistance from the DUP.

Sinn Fein MLAs have never taken our full wage but have always and will always work hard for our constituents every single day.

The British Government’s reliance on the DUP remains a central problem and if any process around restoring the institutions is to be credible, Karen Bradley must begin prioritising the rights of citizens over Tory Party self-interest.

Stewart Dickson

Alliance

Cutting MLA salaries is a long overdue decision that the Secretary of State had no option but to take, given the growing sense of anger and frustration. This is a fair move. It was May last year when my party leader Naomi Long was the first to call for this move and it has been something Alliance has regularly asked Mrs Bradley to move on since then. On top of that she has had the report from Trevor Reaney for some time, yet had so far failed to act.

Elections are only another delaying tactic and the Secretary of State had to take this action and the others outlined yesterday to prove she is serious about restoring devolution to Northern Ireland. While I and my Alliance colleagues want to be back in Stormont, working for everyone, it is two parties who are blocking this progress. It remains to be seen if the political will is there to carry the actions outlined today forward.

Gerry Carroll

People Before Profit

I very much welcome the MLA pay cut but for me, it’s about more than just the stalemate. I have only ever taken an average worker’s wage, as per People Before Profit policy. I’ve never believed that elected representatives can adequately represent the least well off in their constituencies while being so far removed from their living standards.

That being said, I don’t think that this pay cut will automatically resolve the stalemate. For real progress, we need to see an end to the Tory party giving cover to the DUP and their anti-equality agenda.

It’s more than clear by now that people want to see a better standard of living here and rights that are respected, including by law.

We won’t get that with a return to the ‘same old, same old’ at Stormont. The big parties need to sit up and listen to people.

Rosemary Barton

Ulster Unionist

There has been too long of a delay by the Secretary of State in taking any decisions. Since the Reaney report the Ulster Unionist Party has been telling her that she should get on with implementing the recommendations from it.

While it may not be fair to those parties who want to get on with governing Northern Ireland, it is an inevitable consequence of the political impasse between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

The cut to pay should be linked to a meaningful and productive talks process.

Karen Bradley has been sitting on the Reaney recommendations for some time and we have said since the publication of the report that implementation of the recommendations should happen. The same political problems continue to be in the way, so it’s unlikely this will speed up a return to government.

Until the political problems are resolved I don’t see that an election would assist any resolution to the situation.

Claire Sugden

Independent

I think it’s important the Secretary of State finally took action. Following Trevor Reaney’s report at the beginning of the year I expected a pay cut and prepared myself for that outcome.

Personally, I will have less income and I will adjust my finances in response.

I could seek better paid employment given my qualifications and work experience, but I’m fortunate to work in a job that makes positive difference to people’s lives. I won’t walk away from that on the basis of the cut announced today.

Not having a government is not fair, cutting MLA pay pales in comparison.

I don’t expect yesterday’s announcement will satisfy public frustration and anger. Fundamentally, people want a functioning government and NI Assembly and I’m not sure a pay cut will deliver that.

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