Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

UUP leader slams Stormont departmental 'shambles'

Claims of irregularities in OFMDFM's accounts indicate the "shambles" which exists within the Executive's top department, it was claimed last night.

Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott said a leaked document obtained by this newspaper exposed an accounting system that was "in a complete mess".

Mr Elliott, who chairs the committee which scrutinises OFMDFM, said: "This appears to be very critical of the accounting mechanisms of OFMDFM.

"It would give you the impression that there is quite a shambles there," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

He said the findings raised new concerns over the £80m Social Investment Fund, which is controlled by OFMDFM, and voiced suspicion that it would be focused on DUP and Sinn Fein's target constituencies.

"There is a concern here that the DUP and Sinn Fein are cooking things up for their own benefit, and that is our concern over the Social Investment Fund - this will be something they do together to satisfy and placate their own people," he added.

"We have been trying to get details of criteria and how it will be managed since it was announced in the Budget, and we can't get any information at all."

It is understood the Audit Office findings will be released today - the same day that Stormont shuts for the summer.

"It seems like a very good day to bury bad news," Mr Elliott added.

"All the committees have closed, the Assembly has closed down. Why did they not release it on Monday?"

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