U.K. cuts Northern Ireland lawmakers' pay over government deadlock
Legislature has been suspended for almost 600 days since power-sharing administration collapsed
The British government is slashing the pay of members of Northern Ireland's Parliament in its latest attempt to break a political deadlock that has left the region with no government for almost 20 months, the U.K.'s minister for Northern Ireland said on Thursday.
Northern Ireland's government, where power was shared between the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party, has been frozen since Sinn Fein pulled out in January 2017, saying they were not being treated as equal partners.
Repeated attempts to break the deadlock have failed, but Karen Bradley, the U.K. minister for Northern Ireland, told the British parliament on Thursday that she would make a fresh push to restart talks in the coming weeks.
"As this impasse continues, public services are suffering. Businesses are suffering. The people of Northern Ireland are suffering," said Bradley. "Local decision-making is urgently needed to address this."
Latest step toward direct rule
Bradley said Britain would cut the pay of Northern Ireland deputies by $12,000 starting in November and by a further $10,200 starting in February if no agreement is reached.
At the same time, legislation will be introduced to give "greater clarity and certainty" to the civil service to take decisions in Northern Ireland to ensure the delivery of public services, she said.
The move is the latest step toward reimposing direct rule over the region by Westminster, including imposing a budget directly from London. The British government has been reluctant to take direct control for fear of angering Irish nationalists and the Irish government.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in July said he planned to try to get the parties together for talks in the autumn.