Northern Ireland news

Conservative MP criticised for accusing MLAs of 'abandonment of duty'

Conservative MP Simon Hoare.
Allan Preston

A Conservative MP has accused Stormont MLAs of “an abandonment of duty” as legislation to slash their wages was debated at Westminster.

Stormont has been without an executive since February as the DUP refuses to form an executive as part of its protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Simon Hoare who chairs the Northern Ireland Affairs committee, tweeted: “And I can’t wait to vote for it! It’s a disgrace that we have to have this Bill. MLAs should be working to help their constituents in these difficult economic times. It’s an abandonment of duty.”

Several MLAs criticised Mr Hoare’s comments and said the DUP should be the ones facing sanctions.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said: “It’s a case of ‘let’s be seen to do something’ when in fact the government is doing nothing Simon. No focus, no energy, no plan..... just another month of drift as the people here suffer. Depressing stuff.”

Alliance leader Naomi Long said: “The DUP is the only party preventing restoration of the Executive. Your Government is the only party with power to resolve the impasse by resolving the protocol or reforming the institutions. We're all paying the price for lack of progress on either front. Try to be accurate, please.”

Three other Alliance MLAs also took issue with Mr Hoare’s comments.

South Belfast MLA Kate Nicholl said: “Hi Simon, I was elected at the start of May, had a baby at the end of May and took two weeks off before returning to my job to help my constituents in whatever way I can.

“I have not abandoned my duty, the DUP have. Please help reform the institutions to end this cycle of dysfunction.”

East Belfast MLA Peter McReynolds said he had “barely had a day off” since getting elected.

“I work evenings most of the week and work over the weekend. I take the role seriously,” he said.

“The DUP have collapsed Government, not I or my Party colleagues. Reform the Assembly so this can never happen again.”

Lagan Valley MLA Sorcha Eastwood said: “Most of us are working. I signed in to do my job. You are more than welcome to come to my constituency of Lagan Valley where I met kids at the weekend whose parents were struggling to make ends meet. I agree it’s a disgrace, but I'm not abandoning my duty, the DUP are. Be accurate.”

Northern Ireland news