MLA’s who refused to support the appointment of an Assembly Speaker should not be paid their salaries, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.
Describing the blocking of the election of the Speaker by the DUP, meaning the Assembly can’t sit, as “a slap in the face for all those on waiting lists or suffering from the cost of living crisis”, the East Belfast MLA, said: “The vast majority of MLAs wanted to turn up today and do the job we were elected to do last week,” said Mrs Long.
“Seventeen Alliance MLAs arrived at the Assembly with a can-do attitude and commitment to serve the people. However, the DUP have decided they will not and I urge to them to reconsider their stance.
“If a party believes in devolution, they should not gamble with it, particularly at such a crucial time. The people of Northern Ireland need a government to take decisions on a range of vital issues and the DUP’s refusal to take part in that process is a slap in the face for all those unable to heat their homes or who are suffering on a waiting list.
“To turn up here and sign the roll to take your salary but then refuse to do your full job is shameful. Those MLAs who blocked the election of a Speaker today should not be paid their salaries. To take them would be an insult to everyone in our society.”
DUP Accused Of ‘Allowing Children To Become Collateral Damage’
The DUP has been accused of “allowing children to become collateral damage to their reckless strategy of collapsing Stormont”, SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan has said.
Mr McCrossan made the accusation following confirmation from the Department of Education that resources have yet to be allocated to the free school meal payment scheme to prevent 98,000 children going hungry this summer.
Mr McCrossan, a former member of Stormont’s Education Committee, has called on parents and carers to contact DUP MLAs to express their frustration at the cynical decision to put party politics ahead of the needs of children and hard-pressed families.
McCrossan said: “It is outrageous that children across Northern Ireland will be left to go hungry during school holidays because resource has not yet been allocated to the free school meal payment scheme to provide hard-pressed families with vital money to get food on the table.
“It is not good enough that DUP MLAs walked into Stormont last week, signed the register to take their salaries, but are happy to let 98,000 children go hungry this summer while they continue to play political games. I understand that the protocol is important to Jeffrey Donaldson, but it cannot be more important than the wellbeing of thousands of children across all of our communities. They cannot become collateral damage to this DUP scheme.
“The SDLP has proposed expanding the free school meal payment scheme to ensure that every child gets a hot meal every day at home and at school, not just during school holidays. The intransigence of the DUP cannot continue and I would urge parents and carers to make their feelings on this important issue known.”
Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd Named Infrastructure Minister
Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd has been announced as NI’s new infrastructure minister.
Mr O’Dowd replaces the SDLPs Nicola Mallon after she lost her Assembly seat in last weeks election.
However, with no functioning executive, Mr O’Dowd will be operating in a ‘caretaker capacity’.
It is understood that Mr O’Dowd will meet with civil servants within the department.