With MLAs earning basic salary of £43,000 per year plus expenses they already earn more than twice the average workers wage and far more than those dependant on, soon to be cut, benefits. While McDonnell was warning of the dangers of public representative poverty,recently released figures show appalling levels of child poverty here in Northern Ireland with child poverty as high as 46% in West Belfast and 36% in Derry. Statistics released before Christmas show 23% of pensioners facing fuel poverty. There is no chance of Dr. McDonnell landing in any sort of poverty, regardless how or when he retires from politics with his up to £30,000 “resettlement grant” and “winding up expenditure”. In fact, between his GP pension, his property portfolio and MLA perks, it is likely that McDonnell will have a retirement most workingclass people can only dream of.
Despite McDonnell’s subsequent,unconvincing apology it is clear from both his comments in the media and his actions in both Stormont and Westminster where his priorities lie. McDonnell and the NI Assembly are no friends of ordinary working class people.They receive salaries far beyond the majority of people plus expenses, an average bill of almost £10,000 per MLA last year. Yet they spend their time carrying out savage cuts to jobs and public services that working class people rely on. MLAs like McDonnell need to be replaced by real workers representatives who live on the average industrial wages and living standards of the majority of people, not the levels of luxury of therich few in Stormont and their friends in big business.