Orange lodge funding raises bigotry issue, says Sinn Fein
The funding of Orange lodges and halls out of a Stormont grants scheme poses "major questions about the role of institutionalised bigotry", Sinn Fein has said.
Declan Kearney said money handed over by the Community Halls scheme had quadrupled from £500,000 to £1.9m on the watch of former DUP minister Paul Givan. He said: "It has been suggested that this scheme was in place to help groups which would not apply for funding from the Lottery scheme, reportedly because of a 'faith-based' reluctance to benefit from gambling.
"This explanation simply does not stack up, particularly following the revelations that Orange lodges and other groups which had supposedly not applied for Lottery funding did in fact do so."
"It now transpires that the Randalstown Ulster Scots Cultural Society will receive £8,500 in Big Lottery Funding for improvements to Randalstown Memorial Orange Hall, despite already receiving £25,000 from the Community Halls scheme."
He added: "The restoration of public confidence in the political process and re-establishment of the political institutions will depend upon transparency, fairness and equality in the governance of all public funds and decision-making. There is no place for any form of institutionalised bigotry in terms of public policy or government."