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'Time to let public have say on MLAs' pay: Ford

August 8, 2002 12:00 AM

Alliance has called for an independent 'Citizen's Jury' to pass judgement on Assembly members' future salary recommendations.

Alliance Leader David Ford said that the current recommended increases were based on comparison with other bodies across the UK, and assumed that the Assembly was working effectively. Alliance has expressed serious reservations about the effectiveness of the Assembly and Executive to date.

Mr Ford said: "The recent SSRB* report recommendations were based on the Assembly working properly for the people of Northern Ireland. Obviously that is not happening, and I am not the only one who thinks that."

"While the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have made significant impacts on the life of their citizens, there is no doubt that, so far, the people of Northern Ireland have seen very little change brought about by the Assembly."

"Even the SSRB report itself agrees with the Alliance position that very little primary legislation has been enacted and symbolic issues have assumed major importance (page 31)."

"There has also been huge disappointment with lack of progress on the Programme for Government. It has become a growing list of failed targets."

"That is why Alliance is proposing that an independent 'Citizen's Jury' should pass judgement on future pay increases for Assembly members."

"The SSRB has assessed our work from a London perspective, assuming that the institutions were functioning properly. We need the people of Northern Ireland to have their say on whether we are actually living up to our responsibilities."

"The public believe that MLAs are getting huge pay hikes for very little work while Northern Ireland can't even get enough skilled hospital staff because of low pay. Independent evaluation is appropriate for nurses, teachers and firemen - it should be good enough for MLAs."

*SSRB - Senior Salaries Review Board, which recommends MLAs' pay.

ENDS.

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