Paramilitary plan funding was available, says Justice Minister Claire Sugden
The Justice Minister has denied claims that the Treasury refused to fund Stormont's plans to tackle paramilitaries.
Claire Sugden addressed a controversy sparked last month when Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir told MLAs £5m had been withheld until more detail was added to the strategy.
It was originally envisaged that £10m was to be set aside this year to fund the measures in the Executive's paramilitary action plan - split between Stormont and Westminster.
However, the £5m has not been paid out by the Treasury this year - prompting Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt to claim the Government had marked the Executive's homework as "not good enough".
Mrs Sugden told Assembly question time there had been confusion around the issue. She said the Executive had not wanted to draw down the money this year.
"It is not the case that the Northern Ireland Office or the Secretary of State has refused money, indeed they sit on our programme board and are working with us when we want to draw this money down," she said.
"We are not going to draw down money for the sake of optics.
"We are going to draw it down for the sake of using it in the most effective and efficient way and indeed that has been the process to date.
"So to clear up the confusion around the money that's been available from Her Majesty's Treasury, we have not drawn down money from our perspective and it has not been the case that they have not given it to us."