Assembly agency staff lose jobs as NI political crisis continues

The political crisis at Stormont continues
The political crisis at Stormont continues

A number of agency staff at the Northern Ireland Assembly have lost their jobs due to the current political crisis.

Several contracts were terminated on Friday, with more potentially under threat.

As Stormont's political parties continue to struggle to resolve their differences and restore powersharing, it is understood that up to 13 agency workers have so far been affected by the impasse.

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It is believed that two of the agency staff worked as tour guides at Parliament Buildings.

An Assembly spokesman told the Press Association that the Assembly's requirement for agency staff had "diminished".

"The Assembly uses agency workers from time to time, depending on business needs. The requirement for agency workers is reviewed on an ongoing basis and is adjusted in line with business needs.

"At this time the Assembly's requirement for agency staff has diminished and an adjustment has been made to the numbers engaged," the spokesman said.

The Assembly would not confirm the number of agency workers affected or their job roles. However a source claimed up 13 agency workers, including two tour guides, had lost their jobs.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since January, when the coalition collapsed over a botched energy scheme.

The late Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, quit as deputy first minister in protest at the Democratic Unionist Party's handling of the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scandal.

It led to a snap election to the Northern Ireland Assembly on March 2, which saw a surge in Sinn Fein's vote.

Stormont's two largest parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein, have been unable to reach agreement to share power since that date.

They have been warned they face either a second assembly election or direct rule from Westminster unless agreement is reached by the end of June.