SF/DUP false war conceals carve-up of community funding - McCloskey
Aontú deputy leader Dr Anne McCloskey has criticised the shameful record of the DUP and Sinn Féin with regards community funding.
Dr. McCloskey stated:
“While both the DUP and Sinn Féin are attempting to portray themselves as the only means to hinder the influence of the other, they have been happy to co-operate in the disbursement of funding. This funding is distributed through mechanisms designed to bolster the DUP and Sinn Féin by giving them an effective veto over which groups receive funding.
“That was chiefly engineered through the Strategic Investment Fund, with control over £93 million. All appointments to the nine steering groups had to be approved by the First and Deputy First Minister which in effect meant that the DUP and Sinn Féin ultimately decided where money ended up.
“The absence of accountability, transparency and integrity in the SIF operation was exposed by the north’s Audit Office. Not only were groups close to the two parties, or individuals within the two parties, given priority in funding applications, but groups perceived not to be of use to the DUP and Sinn Féin were in many cases refused.
“That discrimination also extended to employment of people on publicly financed schemes. That was proven in 2017 when the Fair Employment Tribunal found in favour of Gary McClean who had been turned down for a position on the Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership despite scoring highest in the interview process.
“The tribunal’s findings backed up Mr. McClean’s assertion that the only reason he was not offered the position was because his political stance did not match the approach of Sinn Fein and the DUP towards community services and funding.
“Even with the suspension of Stormont since 2017, the two parties’ control of community funding has continued through councils where their majority allows them to favour their own people. In January the DUP and Sinn Féin acted in tandem on Belfast City council to allocate £500,000 to organisations closely connected to them or their members. In 2018 they jointly rejected a proposal in Belfast for an ‘open call’ process to allow for transparent funding decisions.
“The whole community deserves better than this shoddy and self-serving disbursement of funding that in theory is meant to benefit the general public rather than two parties who are engaged in a mock battle that conceals their cosy arrangement when holding power.”