Derry nationalist politicians have united against plans to give Assembly members a £5,000 pay rise.
MLAs from both Sinn Fein and the SDLP reacted angrily to a decision by the Independent Financial Review Panel to allow an 11% increase in Assembly salaries from April of next year. The panel was set up to explore the rule on the controversial issues of MLA salaries, allowances, expenses and pensions.
An MLA’s basic pay is currently £43,101. MLAs who are committee chairs get another £11,331, while deputy chairs get an extra £5,667. Junior ministers get an extra £19,609 while ministers get £37,801 extra. The first and deputy first ministers receive £114,535 each.
Derry SDLP Assemblyman and party whip Pat Ramsey said that people would be “dismayed” by the decision. “There are major problems ahead of us and it would be totally inappropriate for any member to claim this pay rise at this time. The bottom line on this is that the SDLP is opposed to any payrise.” Welcoming the publication of the report and in particular the allowance for projected savings of £3m to the public purse, Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney reiterated Sinn Féin’s opposition to any increase in MLA’s salaries. “We believe it would be hypocritical for MLAs to be contemplating an increase in the current economic climate when everyone else is expected to cope with the effects of the recession. It is our view that the current remuneration is adequate.”