Stormont no place for more bad school playground behaviour

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman
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This weekend I’m in a European country which is dithering about whether or not to hold a referendum about its future in the European Union.

I intend not to get involved in any debates there because I voted for the UK to leave the EU knowing full well that it wouldn’t be as easy as Boris Johnston said it would.

Stormont

Stormont

My opinion probably wouldn’t count for much anyway and I don’t want to fall out with my son and his wife who are committed to remaining in the EU. My son has already given me an earful over how I voted but thankfully he’s still speaking to me.

I won’t be able to stay away from politics though this weekend because being away from home means I’m going to have to depend on the mobile phone to find out the results of our own calamitous election.

I couldn’t bear to watch the rowdy party leaders’ TV debate on Tuesday night because bear pits aren’t my thing. Yet, somehow or other, we are all going to have to accept those elected and try to make it work. To waste any more money on costly elections is stupid given the state our health service is in not to mention education, policing and care of the elderly.

All of these subjects may arise in the main Budget at Westminster next week held against a background of more than two million working households across the country struggling with money worries and poor financial prospects according to Which? Estimates.

Theresa May describes these people as `just managing’ and I hope she remembers that unless there is some kind of income tax relief most of them will just get poorer.

We still have employers who dock pay off a parent who has to look after a sick child, and employers who will pay only for hours worked and who have dispensed with contracts of employment. This is no way to treat people in a world where the be-knighted rich flaunt their wealth and can walk away from pension commitments for their employees.

This spring Westminster MPs are to get a pay rise of more than £1,000 representing a pay rise of 1.4 per cent whilst keeping other pay rises in the public sector to 1 per cent.

This will give the average MP an annual salary of £76,011 – over two years their pay has risen by £9,000 – with other benefits tacked on such as mortgage interest relief and various expenses which have limited scrutiny.

Here, from April 1 this year, an MLA will earn £49,500 a year, the speaker £87,500, his deputy £55,500, a junior minister £55,500 with the First and Deputy First Ministers each earning £121,500.

On top of that all will be entitled to expenses, which, in some cases, could double an MLA’s salary.

These are great salaries which taxpayers’ pay for so we are entitled to expect our politicians to work for us. They have a huge budget to manage but sadly few of them have any business experience to do it.

Schemes such as the shambolic RHI caught them out and, like ferrets in a sack, each one blames the other. The whole thing reeked of incompetence with no one stopping for one minute to think of the financial outcome.

Instead we saw the unedifying spectacle of our politicians, ministers in particular, running away from their responsibilities blaming everyone else but themselves for the mess.

We the voters do not want direct rule, nor do we want the arrogance displayed by Michelle O’Neill who, if she becomes, Deputy First Minister says she won’t work with Arlene Foster, who, if the DUP become the largest party, will be First Minister. School playground level of behaviour is not what we voted for this week.