Ulster: N Ireland Assembly votes itself a pay rise

Politics in Belfast comes speedily of age as the first full day of business opens with pounds 9,000 pay rises all round agreed

NORTHERN IRELAND politicians demonstrated yesterday that they have come some way since the days when, it was said, the first item on the political agenda was "the split". In the Belfast Assembly almost the first item of business was, instead, the pay rise.

On the first full day of routine business since last week's devolution of power to Belfast from Westminster, members voted themselves and their new ministers hefty rises.

The move was not be as venal and self-serving as might be assumed, given that the assembly was putting through the recommendations of an independent review board.

None the less, the apparent haste to pay themselves more was seen as a poor move in terms of the assembly's public image, and may generate some cynicism about the motivation of at least some of its members.

The salaries of the 108 assembly members are to rise by pounds 9,000 to pounds 38,000, while the new ministers will get pounds 71,000. The pay for first minister David Trimble and his deputy Seamus Mallon was increased to pounds 102,000, although neither will receive the full entitlement since they are also Westminster MPs. More money is also to be paid to junior ministers and committee chairmen and deputy chairmen.

The new levels will put an end to several decades in which full-time politics offered a living to only a small number of people in Northern Ireland. Until the assembly was set up Westminster and European parliament seats, together with party posts, offered the only political livings, meaning that probably fewer than 50 people were salaried political operators. One hope is that the increased rewards and many new jobs available will encourage a new generation to become involved, attracting new talent and widening the political gene pool.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams spoke against the pay rise, saying he was concerned that the first order of business since devolution should be a substantial increase in salaries. He added: "I would point out that the increase suggested is almost three times more than the income of a single person on income support." Mr Adams was accused by the SDLP of "political opportunism".

t Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble is to be honoured by the French government this week for his work towards peace in the province, it was confirmed today.

The Ulster Unionist leader will receive the Legion d'Honneur - the highest decoration France can bestow - during a ceremony on Wednesday night in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris.

Mr Trimble was awarded the Legion d'Honneur with fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate John Hume in November. But while the SDLP leader travelled to receive the award, Mr Trimble was unable to attend the ceremony.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower