London Plans to Curb Northern Ireland Assembly Members' Pay

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. central government plans to cut the pay of Northern Ireland Assembly members after a 20-month standoff between rival parties over forming a power-sharing executive.

Salaries will be cut from November in two stages, “in line” with the recommendations of a government-commissioned review that was published in December, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley told lawmakers in Parliament on Thursday. That document called for salaries to be reduced first by 15 percent and eventually by an aggregate 27.5 percent.

The Democratic Unionist Party -- which props up Prime Minister Theresa May’s Westminster government -- and Sinn Fein have failed to reach agreement since the semi-autonomous assembly was suspended in January 2017. The main bone of contention is protection sought by Sinn Fein for the Irish language.

The administration has been run by civil servants for the past 16 months, with no sign that the power-sharing executive will be restored any time soon.

“As this impasse continues, public services are suffering; businesses are suffering; the people of Northern Ireland are suffering,” Bradley said. “Local decision-making is urgently needed to address this.”

Bradley stressed that staffing allowances will be kept the same because staff shouldn’t suffer as a result of politicians’ failure to reach an accord. She also signaled she doesn’t intend to call an election to resolve the situation.

“I have not believed and do not now believe that holding an election during this time of significant change and political uncertainty would be helpful or would increase the prospects of restoring the Executive,” she said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.