A LOCAL UNIONIST MLA has admitted that junior doctors and nurses at the South West Acute Hospital are more deserving of a pay rise than the elected representatives in the North.
Sitting UUP MLA Alastair Patterson, who was coopted into the Assembly at the end of January in place of the ill Neil Somerville weighed in on the issue, which will see MLAs pocket an extra £1,000 a year (£48,000 to £49,000) following the elections on May 5.
“That’s something I wouldn’t have been looking for at all,” Mr Patterson explained.
“It’s frustrating for me, there’s nurses on front line services within the South West Acute Hospital. I have spoken to a number of them in the last couple of weeks, I understand their frustration at the lack of resources that they have at times and the difficulties that they have and I commend them for the work they do. Unfortunately for me this is not something I would have been looking for personally.”
When asked if he felt the extra salary would be better allocated to professions like junior doctors and nurses, the MLA responded: “Yes I do” and agreed that a vote amongst members on whether to introduce the rise could have been a possible alternative.
Despite this stance the election candidate said it has been “non-stop” since he took on the role of MLA, with 16 hours days and seven day weeks very much the norm. Now heading into the elections the Castlederg man admits the real challenge now begins, but hopes previous work in the role will stand him in good stead.
With six MLA spots available in Fermanagh South Tyrone and three likely to go to Nationalist candidates it appears the UUP candidates Alastair Patterson and Rosemary Barton face a tough challenge to both be elected up against the experienced DUP pair of Maurice Morrow and First Minister Arlene Foster. Despite many political commentators expecting Foster to top the poll Mr Patterson believes it is not that straightforward. He spoke of his respect for the DUP leader and described her as a “formidable politician”, but refuted suggestions that her topping the poll was a formality.
“We feel that the momentum of unionism is coming towards the UUP at this moment in time. We’re going on the back of the last council elections, we saw a massive swing back towards the UUP,” he said.
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Posted: 9:00 am April 1, 2016