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GROWING COST OF FAILED ASSEMBLY: It's shameful.. they're behaving like nursery kids.

TODAY marks the sixth anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, yet the Assembly has been suspended and the MLAs are still being paid 70 per cent of their pounds 41,000 salary.

ZOE WATSON takes to the streets of Northern Ireland to find out what you think six years on.

CO DERRY

Brian Anderson, 70, retired, Maghera: "It's ridiculous that there is no Assembly and the politicians are still earning money. The ministers in this Government which we have at the moment will never show the same amount of interest in the country as our own politicians."

Deirdre Warden, 49, catering assistant, Magherafelt: "Things are in a real mess at the moment. Nothing has changed in the past six years. I think the MLAs pay should be taken off them, they should be removed from politics and the younger generation should be given a chance because they are the ones who can really make a difference."

William Donnelly, 66, retired, Magherafelt: "The MLAs shouldn't be getting a penny because they are doing nothing for us. What have they done since 1998? Nothing but sit down and sign their big pay cheques which the taxpayer is funding."

CO TYRONE

Kathleen Gallagher, 22, housewife, Omagh: "They don't really deserve to be paid. When do you ever see a politician in your area? Only whenever something bad happens. No one bothered with Omagh until the bombing."

Niall Fox, 23, trainee solicitor, Omagh: "It's ridiculous, in what other job would you get paid when you're not working? I don't think the MLAs have ever been interested in the young people of Northern Ireland who actually have a lot to say."

Keith Allison, 43, unemployed, Omagh: "It's stupid paying them. Why should they get money whenever they're doing nothing for us. I know there's less violence and bombing now, the place seems to be a lot calmer and if everyone would work together we could get back to that."

CO FERMANAGH

Gerard Cassidy, 45, clerical officer, Derrygonnelly: "On the one hand it's good to have a devolved Government with local input but there's always been far too many MLAs.

Anyway, things seem to be progressing quite well without the Assembly. At the end of the day if the parties can't agree we're going to get nowhere."

Margaret McIlvena, 52, sales assistant, Enniskillen: "It's a disgrace there's no Assembly, it should be up and running. I have noticed changes for the better since the Agreement was signed but until the politicians stop bickering those changes will have been in vain."

Howard McMorris, 42, accountant, Enniskillen: "With the amount of money the Assembly has already cost the taxpayer I would like to see it working again. I don't think anyone wants to see the money spent on devolution over the past six years go to waste because of disagreements between parties."

CO ARMAGH

Dominic Gormley, 41, unemployed, Armagh: "It's shameful the money they're getting and not doing anything for us. They're behaving like a crowd of nursery school children fighting among themselves oblivious to the outside world. I think things would work a lot better if there were only half a dozen MLAs."

Jennifer Knipe, 40, administrator, Armagh: "I think the MLAs should be getting some sort of a pay packet but it should be greatly reduced. The Assembly has helped Northern Ireland progress to a stage of relative peace and that's what people want, that's what they voted for whenever they said yes to the Good Friday Agreement."

Martin Rafferty, 18, student, Armagh: "Some good did come out of signing the Agreement. It's a more peaceful now , people are more relaxed. It's time the parties sorted things out because we need peace to continue."

CO DOWN

Caroline Millar, 43, Cook, Banbridge: "It's a disgrace that they're getting paid whenever they're not working. If I don't work I don't get paid so why should they. I hate the politics in this country."

Brian Couchman, 26, window cleaner, Banbridge: "The Assembly has made no change other than it has lined the pockets of politicians. People are still getting beaten by paramilitaries and sometimes even shot."

Cheryl McGaw, 25, sales assistant, Banbridge: "It's a disgrace that the MLAs are getting paid and make no difference to life here."

CO ANTRIM

Brian Malone, 53, personnel officer, Dunmurry: "There has been a lot of change in this country in six years but that's down to people being more tolerant, not down to the Assembly. The MLAs don't deserve to get big money but Sinn Fein and the DUP do work hard."

John Beck, 55, security guard, Belfast: "I don't think any of the politicians are doing much for us especially at the moment. I'm not interested the Assembly. I might care if they got it up and running again."

Andrew Connor, 20, student, Belfast: "I'm not interested in politics, no one can be bothered with the arguments and rows anymore. It doesn't seem fair that the MLAs sit up in their fancy houses doing nothing and getting paid for it."

CAPTION(S):

ANGRY: Dominic, Cheryl and Andrew
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 9, 2004
Words:849
Previous Article:WIN A 5-NIGHT break to the Country Music Festival; IN THE GLENEAGLE HOTEL KILLARNEY.
Next Article:GROWING COST OF FAILED ASSEMBLY: pounds 9.6M ..OUR BILL FOR 137 DAYS OF NO MLAS; This cannot go on indefinitely, salaries will be reviewed.


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