Belfast Telegraph

Controversial hall fund launched by DUP's Paul Givan 'not screened for equality impact'

By Donna Deeney

A controversial fund for community hall improvements launched by outgoing DUP minister Paul Givan was not equality tested ahead of the cash being allocated to the winning bids, it has emerged.

A report by The Detail news website says the £1.9m grant scheme - the value of which nearly quadrupled from the original £500,000 earmarked - was not subject to equality screening due to an "oversight by departmental officials".

The screening was completed five days after Communities Minister Mr Givan announced that 90 organisations had won funding.

It has also emerged that the document was only signed off by a senior official and published on Thursday of this week - three days after The Detail asked the Department for Communities (DfC) to confirm if its Community Halls Pilot Programme had equality screened.

Civil liberties campaigners first asked for the relevant documentation more than two weeks ago.

In response, a DfC spokesperson said: "Due to an oversight by departmental officials, an equality screening exercise was not carried out before the pilot community halls scheme was launched.

"An equality screening exercise has now been completed. This screening has concluded that this policy will have no adverse impact on any Section 75 category.

"Any impact is expected to be positive in that the funding will help improve access to facilities in community halls across Northern Ireland.

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