Belfast Telegraph

Money for nothing cannot be justified, insists Carroll

By Allan Preston

With no agreement reached at Stormont yesterday, MLAs will continue to enjoy their full salary unless another election is called.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Assembly told the Belfast Telegraph "MLAs are MLAs" and there would be no change to their pay unless the Assembly was officially dissolved.

Currently, MLAs earn a salary of £49,000, which is scheduled to rise by £500 each year in line with inflation.

If direct rule returns, responsibility for MLAs' pay will fall to Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire.

But People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll has called for immediate action to curtail MLAs' pay should Stormont be mothballed.

"Obviously no deal has been struck at Stormont and by the looks of it the Assembly won't be up and running anytime soon," said Mr Carroll.

"Many people are concerned about this, and a lot of them are worried about funding and job losses. I share this frustration at the bigger parties, and at the inability of Stormont to deliver real change for people.

"If a school was closed down, teachers wouldn't expect to be paid. Similarly, if a hospital is shut, the State does not continue to pay health workers. Therefore, it cannot be one rule for MLAs and another rule for everyone else."

Stormont was last suspended between 2002 to 2007, and for the entire period MLAs were still paid two-thirds of their normal salary.

In 2011 an outside panel was set up to judge what rate MLAs should get.

The Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) granted MLAs a pay rise, which was intended to offset reform in the expenses system.

The IFRP reported at the time that the expenses system was abused before 2011 with nepotism in appointments of staff by some MLAs, using constituency funds for party political activities and awarding contracts to firms without any work being completed.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph