Northern Ireland Assembly members' pay cut by £13,000 after 600 days without agreement between Sinn Féin and DUP
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Northern Ireland Assembly members' pay cut by £13,000 after 600 days without agreement between Sinn Féin and DUP

NORTHERN Ireland secretary Karen Bradley is to slash Stormont Assembly members' pay by £13,000, after almost 600 days without an Executive.

The North has been without power-sharing since a bitter row between Sinn Féin and the DUP boiled over in January 2017.

Ms Bradley has also ruled out calling a fresh Assembly election and is to back legislation which would allow civil servants to make decisions in the absence of devolution.

By November, MLA pay will have fallen from the present figure of £49,500 to £35,888.

It comes just a week after Northern Ireland overtook Belgium's record for the world’s longest peacetime period without a functioning government at 590 days.

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Mixed response

Speaking in the House of Commons today, Ms Bradley said: "The reduction will take effect in two stages, commencing in November - it would not reduce the allowance for staff as I do not think that MLAs' staff should suffer because of the politicians' failure to form an Executive.

"I recognise that there is a need to provide reassurance and clarity to both the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the people of Northern Ireland on the mechanisms for the continued delivery of public services.

"So, the legislation I intend to introduce after the conference recess will also include provisions to give greater clarity and certainty to enable Northern Ireland departments to continue to take decisions in Northern Ireland in the public interest and to ensure the continued delivery of public services."

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long tweeted her approval of the announcement, writing simply: "Not before time".

On a similar note, DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "The proposal to reduce the pay for MLAs is a sensible step as we are not able to fulfil our full role as legislators.

"The Secretary of State is right to guard against cuts to the pay and allowances for Members' staff."

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Meanwhile, Sinn Féin issued a statement claiming Ms Bradley was "acting under duress" in a plan "cobbled together at the last moment".