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Sinn Féin 'forced' to ditch equal pay for Stormont staff

Sinn Fein says new rules mean it will have to drop its policy of paying elected representatives and staff the same
Connla Young

SINN Féin is to end its practice of paying elected representatives and party workers the same, blaming new rules introduced at Stormont.

Until now all party politicians and staff across the north have received the 'average industrial wage', believed to be in the region of £26,000 a year.

MLAs and ministers earning well above this amount have returned the surplus to party coffers.

However, Sinn Fein said equal pay is no longer possible due to new rules which could see the salaries of some Stormont staff slashed to £16,000.

It has been suggested the party will no longer be able to make up the difference.

Dozens of staff are thought to be affected.

There are concerns that some Stormont workers could be forced from their jobs as a result of the cuts, with those who live outside Belfast particularly hard hit.

A party spokesman last night said it has concerns about the implications “for workers' terms and conditions including maternity/paternity and sick leave".

Until now Sinn Fein was the only party that paid all its staff and politicians the same wage regardless of role.

It is expected elected representatives will continue to receive £26,000.

The changes come after the Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) carried out an overhaul of the current system at Stormont.

Three new pay grades have been introduced for party staff, starting at £16,000, £19,750 and £22,750.

At worst Sinn Fein staff in the top band will suffer a drop in pay of over £3,000 a year, while those on the lowest grade would lose £10,000 annually.

The news come weeks after the party set up a review of its policy of capping pay for party representatives and workers south of the border at €37,000.

The review was launched after some of the party's Dublin TDs voiced concerns with the ard chomhairle about the cost of living in the capital.

A spokesman for Sinn Féin said its wage policy in the north has been designed to “ensure all full-time staff and elected representatives are treated equally with regard to pay”.

“This was done with the good will of all involved and in accordance with the rules of the various institutions and in compliance with all legal obligations,” he said.

“Recent changes in the northern assembly mean this is no longer possible.

"We are implementing the new regulations set down by the Independent Financial Review Panel.”

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