Saturday 18 November 2017

MLAs' pay during the assembly deadlock to be reviewed

James Brokenshire, right, with the DUP leader Arlene Foster: moved budget measures for Stormont ‘with the utmost reluctance’. Photo: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
James Brokenshire, right, with the DUP leader Arlene Foster: moved budget measures for Stormont ‘with the utmost reluctance’. Photo: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Harriet Line

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has commissioned an independent review into whether MLAs should still be paid their full salaries while there is no assembly at Stormont.

He also confirmed that £50m (€56m) would be made available to Northern Ireland from the DUP's £1bn (€1.12bn) confidence and supply arrangement with the British government, despite the continued deadlock in power-sharing.

Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP, called the confirmation of funding "a very significant moment in the history of this parliament".

Mr Brokenshire spoke as he moved budget measures for Stormont with the "utmost reluctance". He told MPs he understood concerns over MLAs still being paid their full salary months after power-sharing collapsed.

"I understand that concern, but I recognise too that, in fact, many of those elected have been desperate to serve since March, and are continuing to provide valuable constituency functions in the meantime," he said.

"That is why I have been keen to seek independent advice on the subject, in determining what actions may be appropriate.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

"I can say to the House this evening that Trevor Reaney, a former clerk of the Northern Ireland Assembly, has agreed to take on that task.

"He will provide an independent assessment of the case for action, and the steps he would consider to be appropriate, and will report back to me by December 15."

Mr Brokenshire added that while the £1bn (€1.12bn) deal agreed with the DUP was intended for a restored executive in Northern Ireland, the circumstances there could not be ignored in the meantime.

Earlier, Mr Brokenshire said the parties must resolve the issues to end the power-sharing deadlock. He emphasised to MPs that his "strong preference" would be for a restored executive to bring forward its own budget.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith said: "If this is not direct rule, it's getting perilously close to it."

Speaking yesterday, Sinn Féin's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill called on the Irish and British governments to intervene.

"We have sought urgent meetings with both the Taoiseach and the British prime minister. The way forward now is for the two governments to fulfil their responsibility as co-guarantors of the Good Friday and St Andrew's Agreements, to honour outstanding commitments, and to deliver rights enjoyed by everyone else on these islands to people here," she added.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Also in this section