Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed confirmation that the Equality Commission is to formally investigate controversial decisions within a DUP-controlled department, which helped fuel the collapse of the power-sharing institutions.
The Foyle representative was speaking after the Commission confirmed the probe into the decision to axe the Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme and the Community Halls Pilot Programme, which heavily benefitted Orange Halls.
Raymond McCartney said:
“My party colleague Michelle Gildernew MP had written to the Equality Commission to express concerns about the decision to axe the Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme and about how funding was provided for the Community Halls Pilot Programme.
“I welcome the Equality Commission’s decision to investigate the handling of these schemes, both of which were located within the Department of Communities under DUP Minister Paul Givan.
“The scrapping of the Líofa scheme was an appalling decision and contributed significantly towards the collapse of power-sharing as it was widely seen within the nationalist community as a blatant sectarian and cynical act.
“Similarly, the operation of the £1.9m Community Halls scheme has raised widespread public concern, given that the vast majority of the beneficiaries were from the unionist tradition.
“Sinn Féin have previously addressed this matter and pointed at real concerns which exist regarding the practice of institutionalised bigotry directing public policy and disbursal of public funds.
“There needs to be integrity in government.
“The public needs to have confidence that public money is allocated fairly and on the basis of need not creed.
“It is essential that public policy and the direction of funds and resources are based upon objective need criteria. This investigation is a very important process to ensure transparency and accountability are brought to bear on how these decisions have been made.”