‘The rich get richer and the poor…’

By Ciara Quinn

NOT knowing whether to laugh or cry was the general response from the public as news emerged that an independent panel has recommended that our MLAs’ salaries should rise by almost £5,000 from April 2013. Currently, an MLA’s basic pay, before claims and expenses, stands at £43,101 – an 11 per cent increase would see it rise to £48,000.

As our Health Service continues to buckle, pay freezes continue and our young people find themselves having to travel halfway across the world to find work, this news has come as a very bitter pill to swallow for the families and young people who struggle to get through the month.

Sinn Féin has said it will reject the proposed pay rise with MLA Barry McElduff stating it would be “hypocritical to be contemplating an increase in the current economic climate when everyone else is expected to cope with the effects of the recession”.

The Andersonstown News paid an afternoon visit to the Kennedy Centre to ask local shoppers, are you laughing, or are you crying?

“What are they getting paid for?” asked Charlie Hill.  “What about our hospitals – what sense did it make to close down the A&E at the City Hospital or close early at Lagan Valley? Where’s our education? I don’t think MLAs are  entitled to this pay rise.”

Glen Road resident Teresa Harvey said: “I think it’s ridiculous and what is proposed is too much.”

Another Glen Road resident, Stevie Stevenson, told us: “Well, it’s to be expected – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Una Dougherty believes that the money could be put to better use.

“The money could be put into our schools and hospitals or used to help children in West Belfast, in fact right across the city, who are living in deprived areas,” she said.

Finally, Lagmore resident Theresa McGlone also wasn’t happy at the proposed pay rise for MLAs.

“I think it should be taken off them and put into our hospitals,” she said.

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