DUP claim Westminster budget has 'silenced' critics

DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds, Mr Dodds has claimed last week's Westminster budget has silenced critics of the party.

DUP deputy leader NigelDodds has said a further announcements linked to the party’s confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives will be made in the coming weeks, adding that critics of the party have been silenced by the recent Westminster budget.

The north Belfast MP said last Thursday’s budget, with the inclusion of the £410 million in new money , was “positive news for everyone in Northern Ireland”. 

“The benefits will accrue to all parts of Northern Ireland, both urban and rural, as well as to both sides of the community, both unionist and nationalist,” he said.

“There were those who claimed it would never come and those who claimed it was dependent on an executive being formed. They are very silent now.” 

Mr Dodds said that the budget announcement was a “ continuation of the roll out of the confidence and supply arrangements”.

“We expect further announcements to be made shortly,” he said.

“Decisions are beginning to be taken which for too long have been left in abeyance as a result of Sinn Féin crashing the Northern Ireland

“Whilst awaiting the return of devolution, people and services in Northern Ireland cannot be left in limbo.”

Meanwhile, party colleague Sammy Wilson has called for the “salaries of abstentionist MPs” to be considered if, as expected, the wages of MLAs are to be cut this week by the Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

Sinn Féin’s MPs do not draw a backbencher’s salary or pension, but they are entitled to claim

The party is entitled to staffing costs, accommodation allowances and administration and expenditure costs totalling several hundred thousand pounds per year.

A report by former assembly chief executive Trevor Reaney last year recommended reducing MLAs’ wages by around £14,000.

The report also said wages should be cut two stages to around three-quarters of the current £49,500.

Karen Bradley is due to announce her decision on MLAs’ salaries this week.

The East Antrim MP said Ms Bradley, should also look at the “salaries” of Sinn Féin members who do not take their seats at Westminster.

Speaking on the Sunday Politics show Mr Wilson said: “You cannot at the same time keep on paying Sinn Féin members at Westminster as if they are fulfilling all of their duties.

“Westminster is giving millions of pounds to Sinn Féin MPs who are not doing their job.

“I think if we are going to have any balance in this then we have got to see those two things linked.”

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