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Time has to be called on Stormont soap opera: Former Secretary of State Peter Hain

Time to withdraw staff salaries and expenses says Labour peer

Former Secretary of State Peter Hain has said time has to be called on the Stormont "soap opera" at some stage.

The Labour peer was speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Ulster. He suggested it was time to end the salaries and expenses for MLAs' staff and consideration needed to be given to cutting the politicians' pay.

He said he threatened the same in 2006 before the St Andrews Agreement which "had a big effect" on the DUP.

"I wish James Brokenshire all the best," he said. "This has been going on for some months and he has been whistling optimism and good luck to him with that.

"Time has to be called on this whole soap opera at some point, there has to be consequences for the political classes and not just for the people.

"There are people in hospitals which are in a mess because of the dysfunctional government and failure to take decisions. Consequences should not just be felt by people who are helpless, but by the political classes."

Lord Hain was Northern Ireland Secretary of State from 2005 to 2007.

He added: "If I was in the secretary of state's shoes and I am not aware of the detail in the talks and wish him no ill will ... but at the minimum, expenses and salaries of staff should be withdrawn and they should be given proper notice under employment law.

"I am not in favour of withdrawing MLA salaries but we could look at reducing them.

"They are the only group of workers in Northern Ireland who don't have to go to work to draw their salaries and same goes for their staff - this can not go on.

"We risk destroying or undermining severely the Good Friday Agreement process which produced the settlement of 2007 - not only that you get such alienation of people from political class that if they decided to do their job properly and govern together there would be deep, deep disenchantment, election turn out would drop and you would get into populist disillusionment with whole lot of them."

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