The SDLP MLA’s at Stormont have turned down a £5,000 pay increase. They are the only party to do so. All the other parties excepted it bringing their MLA’s salaries up to £48,000 a year.

The SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has told the Nolan Show: “Actions speak louder than words and we have all refused to take it.

“In this undoubted time of austerity where you have people in work facing pay freezes, pay cuts and pay-offs and then people out of work, and with disabilities, facing cuts to their benefits, it’s completely unjustifiable, in my opinion, for elected representatives to take a pay rise.”

Mr Durkan said the independent panel that recommended the pay increase was “not only unaware of the public mood but also completely oblivious to the public need”.