Alliance Leader David Ford has refuted the criticism of MLAs from the Secretary of State on today’s ‘Inside Politics’ on Radio Ulster.
David Ford said: “Mr Hain is quite correct to highlight that the Assembly cannot continue indefinitely without meeting and carrying out its functions. This obviously means that MLAs cannot be paid even the reduced salary unless they have real work to do.”
However, for the Secretary of State to talk about MLAs ‘refusing’ to do the job for which they were elected is blatantly untrue.
Alliance MLAs work to represent their constituents. We have attended every meeting to which Ministers have invited us – and many more have been requested. We have put forward constructive and positive suggestions for getting the Assembly up and running. We have published detailed documents on the way ahead.
It was the job of Government to run the Review of the Agreement in 2004. This they patently failed to do in any inclusive way. Instead, they engaged in side deals with the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Since Mr Hain took over at the Northern Ireland Office seven months ago, there has been no serious engagement with the political parties, merely a series of proclamations on issues like water taxes and rates increases.
It sounds as if this interview is another cheap shot at local representatives. If Mr Hain is serious, he will immediately start talking to parties like Alliance about the way forward.
If he is really serious, he might even start listening and acting on our advice.