Plan to let MLAs holiday on expenses abandoned

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Controversial proposals to allow MLAs to take one family holiday a year out of their Stormont expenses have been dropped.

This morning the News Letter reported that a leaked Stormont report had made the suggestion and that there was cross-party support for the idea that it was in the interests of good government for MLAs to be refreshed once a year, with a foreign trip judged to be particularly beneficial.

Many eagle-eyed readers did notice that the somewhat improbable story emerged on April Fool’s day.

But many others questioned whether the proposal could be true.

One major Stormont party contacted News Letter editor Alistair Bushe yesterday morning asking if it could be clarified that the story was an April Fool as their constituency offices had been receiving calls from outraged members of the public.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew played along with the joke, tweeting yesterday morning that the proposal “would remove all dignity from the role of an MLA” and therefore he would be quitting Stormont.

Responding to the report, one reader said they “wouldn’t be surprised if it was true”. Another said: “Are they actually serious? Just when our politicians couldn’t sink any lower... “

Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma responded to the report: “Just had a little rant and than realised the date.”

Irish Senator Mairia Cahill said: “It’s probably not too far from the truth. They claim for the most absurd things.”

And one reader expressed the concern that even though the article was a joke, it could “give them ideas”.