Belfast Telegraph

PMS savers furious at £4.2m HQ renovations

Savers in the failed Presbyterian Mutual Society (PMS) have slammed the Presbyterian church for spending more than £4.2m renovating its HQ.

Some of those who lost money in the savings scheme have claimed that the money earmarked for refurbishing Church House in Belfast should be used to help them.

Church House, which faces on to Great Victoria Street, has been a landmark building in the centre of Belfast for over 100 years.

The Presbyterian Church has already spent £4m replacing stonework on the exterior facade.

Now the church is refurbishing the interior, including work to move the entrance to Fisherwick Place, a new reception and exhibition area and upgrade of the assembly area.

Harry Hume of the PMS Savers Coalition told the BBC that he was “appalled” by the decision to proceed with the work.

He added: “I think it is a smack in the face. To glorify a building into a palace is not necessary at a time of hardship for so many Presbyterians.”

Stephen Riley, who lost £34,000 when the PMS went into administration, also questioned the need for the renovations and said he felt “betrayed”.

He told the BBC: “I do not know where this £4m is coming from. I know originally that back in 2007 they talked about £2m and now we are setting aside £4m.”

Mr Riley said the renovations were not as a result of safety concerns but for “convenience”.

“There are people out there with the PMS who are in dire need,” he added.

“Why don't they take a good chunk of that money and put it aside and say that it is for the PMS. We will worry about the renovations at a later date. That would be a compassionate thing to do.”

Former Presbyterian moderator Stafford Carson, who is |responsible for PMS issues within the church, said he |understood the frustrations of savers.

However, he said the church could not move money from one project to another.

“When money is given for a particular project, it is not possible for us to move this money to a fund for the alleviation of PMS savers.”

Belfast Telegraph

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