Stormont ...All five Derry MLAs have vowed to give their pay rise to charity.
All five Derry MLAs have vowed to give their pay rise to charity.
They were speaking ahead of a joint statement issued yesterday by the leaders of the five main parties at Stormont asking for a proposed £1,000 pay rise to elected representative be deferred.
On Tuesday it was revealed that Northern Ireland Assembly members' salaries were to increase from £49,500 to £50,500 a year, following a recommendation by the Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) in 2016.
There was widespread public anger at the news, which came just 10 days after the Assembly got back up and running.
Yesterday afternoon, the leaders of the DUP, Sinn Féin, SDLP, UUP and Alliance said the announcement “came as a surprise to all parties.”
“We share the broad public dismay at this development, only a matter of days after the Assembly and institutions have been fully restored. We have had a range of concerns over time around recommendations emerging from the Independent Financial Review Panel. We are jointly asking the Assembly Commission that any pay proposal is immediately deferred until the work of the Financial Review Panel has been comprehensively reviewed, and a new panel has the opportunity to consider this matter again and produce a fresh determination. We recognise that a number of MLAs and parties have indicated if the proposed pay increase cannot be halted, they will donate any additional sum to local causes and charities.”
Derry's MLAs had al- ready declared they would be donating the money to charity if it could not be stopped or returned.
The SDLP's Mark H Durkan said he understood the public anger after the raise was announced.
"When I heard about the rise I thought it was ludicrous.
"I don't feel I deserve it or am entitled to it."
Mr Durkan said he would be donating the money to a charity in the Foyle constituency.
His party colleague, Sinead McLaughlin, said she too would give the money to charity.
"I'm only in this job 10 days so I really don't think I qualify for a raise at all," she commented.
"If I get it I will choose a charity to donate it to."
Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said his party opposed the increase.
“Given that the Assembly has just been restored this increase is unjustifiable," he said.
“Sinn Féin will not accept it.
“We are actively exploring options for stopping this pay rise.
“If that’s not possible then we will see if this money can be returned to public funds or donated to charity.”
The view was echoed by Mr McCartney's party colleague, MLA Karen Mullan, who retweeted joint leader of the Assembly Michelle O'Neill's statement “given that the Assembly has just been restored this is unjustifiable and should not be paid.”
DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: "As many will know, Assembly member salaries are set by an independent body and are not under the control of MLAs.
"However, I believe the automatic pay increase which is due to be implemented this year is not acceptable.
"The announcement will have done nothing for confidence in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
"I will be looking at mechanisms by which it can be returned and if it can't I will be donating it to a charity in the Foyle area."
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