“They play games at our expense and at the same time receive a salary”

Voters in Belfast are beginning to notice the absence of MLAs in Stormont.

Although Ernest Brown (55) believes that the lack of executive power affects everyone, he would prefer that the issues be resolved before the separation of powers is restored.

“I wouldn’t want them to come back without sorting things out like protocol,” he said.

“I don’t think any other country in the world will have a border between them. It does not make sense.

“I think that if it gets really bad, Westminster will intervene.

“If they can come in and eclipse people’s opinion on abortion, I’m sure they can fill the pockets of people who need them, but the political parties must unite.

“Obviously there has to be a compromise, which I think to some extent has already been.

“They’re all playing games while everything’s going up in value, but I’m not sure Stormont can do anything about it.”

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Ernest Brown

Cornelia Sermuksnyte (25), who is originally from Lithuania but has been living here for the past six years, has not noticed the impact yet, but hopes the situation will change.

“If people vote for you, you must do what you promised them. You have to keep your promises in order to be elected,” she explained.

A hotel worker is concerned that Northern Ireland is moving into rough seas and there is no one in Stormont to hold the ship.

“If I look in terms of hospitality, the industry is suffering a lot,” she said.

“People are starting to complain about rising prices, and it will only get worse.

“Small businesses will suffer more. A lot of people are starting to shut down.”

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Cornelia Sermuksnite

Ashley Donaldson (34) is also worried that there is no one to help her deal with the coming financial storm.

“The fact that they [MLAs] pay funny. They’ve been around for so long. I couldn’t do it and still get paid. No one else gets full pay for doing nothing,” she said.

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Ashley Donaldson

Her sister Tina Donaldson (39) was excluded from support programs because she is a parent.

“I’m just above the income threshold, so I’m not eligible for any help,” she explained.

“I have three teenage boys at home and [prices for] food, gas and electricity are crazy right now.”

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Tina Donaldson

Musician Kenny Robinson (56) experiences stalemate in a special way.

“The board passed a law to issue amplification licenses, but since Stormont is not in session, this law has not been implemented,” he said.

“In my opinion, since I don’t use an amplifier, the sooner this happens, the better.

“It will allow 40 street musicians to be stopped on Saturday instead of three or four of us because Belfast is too small.

“I love all musicians and I love amplifiers, but some of them are too loud and people like me are drowned out.

“I wouldn’t want to work in a store with a rock band outside all day.”

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Kenny Robinson

David Orr (61), owner of a family butcher shop, is concerned about pricing and business support initiatives.

“There’s a big pile of money out there and no one can spend it,” he said.

“They play games at our expense. The fact that they are still getting their paycheck should disgust most people.”

The businessman added that his electricity bills had risen by 40% to nearly £1,500 a month.

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David Orr

For Lucy Adair (age 22), seeing the MHA in a cell was something of an anomaly.

“Most of our adult adult lives have passed without a government,” she said.

“I have been able to vote since 2018. By the time I was old enough to take an interest in government, it wasn’t there.

“I would notice more if they actually showed up.”