SDLP is the only Assembly party to refuse the latest £5,000 pay rise

Interesting use of an FOI by a political party (never wrong for long, I’m told it was the Nolan Show wot found it out), ie to find out whether any of the other political parties at Stormont refused their 11% pay rise. Mark H Durkan:

“The independent panel which recommended the payrise are completely out of touch not only with the public mood but also with public need. This was evidenced by their decision to cut MLA office costs at a time when demand for assistance and services continues to grow with Welfare Reform imminent”.

That’s a fair old change of tune from January last year, when the party leader used his first major op ed to call for increased pay and pensions for MLAs.

The MLA’s 11% pay rise, posited last year and implemented in April came with a 3% reduction in expenses by next year. At the time Sinn Fein’s Barry McElduff protested the rise

“We believe it would be hypocritical for MLAs to be contemplating an increase in the current economic climate when everyone else is expected to cope with the effects of the recession. It is our view that the current remuneration is adequate.”

However, both Sinn Fein and the DUP questioned the reduction in the office costs allowances and the knock-on effect that would have on constituency services. Mr McElduff said Sinn Fein would look at how they could “ensure that constituency services are maintained at the current level”.

But at the heel of the hunt, he and his party took the pay rise anyway…

For perspective (via Jamie Smyth of the FT):

  • Indicative figures suggest the average wage is falling across the UK.
  • Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK not expected to see rises in house prices in the next year.
  • It is also the only place where the retail trade failed to pick up in May.
  • Bank lending to Northern Irish business continues to strangulate, with only the Ulster Bank yet having access to the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending scheme through its parent the RBS.
  • And in other news, unemployment is at its highest in 15 years at 8.5%.

Expect some sticking plasters tomorrow (but no extra money, and no deal on Corporation Tax), as the Secretary of State hands over her end of the Quid Pro Quo for OFMdFM’s hastily cobbled together Towards a United Community document

Adds: Nolan with Gregory Campbell…