Online petition launched to oppose MLAs pay rise
An online petition has been set up to oppose MLAs £1,000 pay rise, which was announced less than two weeks after Stormont was restored.
Almost 400 people have signed the petition in less than 24 hours.
The Assembly has confirmed that the rises came into effect when powersharing returned, resulting in the annual MLA salary rising from £49,500 to £50,500.
MLAs were due to receive the extra money over the past three years, but the annual rise was blocked by the former NI Secretary of State Karen Bradley.
Their pay was also reduced by a third during the political impasse.
An Assembly spokeswoman said: “Following the formation of an Executive on 11 January 2020, the full provisions of the Assembly Members (Salaries and Expenses) Determination (Northern Ireland) 2016 are in effect, including the provisions for an annual uprating.”
She added: “The current annual salary payable as a member is £50,500.”
The North’s deputy first minister has said the pay rise is ‘unjustifiable’.
Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill said: “MLAs pay is set by an independent body, not by MLAs. MLAs had no input into this decision, nor did they seek it.
“Given that the assembly has just been restored this is unjustifiable and should not be paid.”
Local SDLP MLAs have said they intend to donate their pay rise to charity.
Mark H Durkan said it was ‘no wonder’ there is ‘quite a lot of anger out there that MLAs are to get a payrise’.
“We have recently seen hardworking health workers and other public servants striking for fair pay and conditions. Firstly, let me make it clear that this was not voted for or decided upon by MLAs themselves but by an Independent Panel.”
He said that as far as he understands the process there is no mechanism for MLAs to reject the pay increase.
Mr Durkan said given MLAs have only returned to the Assembly after three years stalemate ‘I personally do not think I warrant this payrise.’
“I pledge to donate all of my salary increase to local charities helping those in need in the Foyle constituency.”
His party colleague Sinead McLaughlin, who was recently co-opted onto the Assembly, said that she will also donate the money to a designated charity. She added: “Politicians in NI are in the last chance saloon. We need to step up to the mark and earn the respect of the electorate by working hard and delivering for our constituents not for ourselves or our parties.”