SINCE the 2017 Assembly Election in March, the five Fermanagh South Tyrone MLAs who were elected have collectively earned £82,500 – despite the collapse of Stormont.
Sinn Fein’s Jemma Dolan, Michelle Gildernew, Sean Lynch, the UUP’s Rosemary Barton and DUP’s Arlene Foster earn a salary of £49,500 as an MLA, amounting to £4,125 a month. This figure does not include expenses which are thought to run into thousands of pounds per annum.
Sinn’s Fein’s MP Michelle Gildernew has recently been replaced as MLA by her brother Colm Gildernew, but she will still have received wages for her time as an MLA.
The annual salary for an MLA for the current financial year which commenced on April 1st 2017 is £49,500 which is an increase of £500 on the previous financial year.
UUP MLA Rosemary Barton states that it is clear that MLAs are not fulfilling all of the duties they have been elected to do but insists they have still been working full time.
“We have constantly had to be available to continue dialogue aimed at restoration of devolution and we have continued to do our constituency work on behalf of the electorate. Liaising with government bodies, the Health and Social Care Trusts, Education Authority and other public bodies. We need to maintain our office work as that is where most of the work is done and people are still coming in to see me and my staff both here and in Dungannon on various issues.
“I am hugely frustrated that the work I am doing is limited. I have a huge number of questions to ask of Executive ministers but we don’t have any!”
When contacted about MLA being paid thousands even though Stormont was suspended, a Sinn Fein spokesman said “Sinn Fein MLAs continue to provide first-class constituency services around a wide range of issues and continue to work hard with voluntary, statutory and other providers on behalf of their constituents. Sinn Fein MLAs continue to receive their salary.”
The DUP press office was also contacted for a comment, but did not reply by the time of going to press.