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Victims’ crusader to fight ‘slur’ over EU funding probe

Victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer has said he is willing to put the deeds of his house down as proof his group is not involved in wrongly using European funds totalling almost £900,000.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson announced in Stormont yesterday that Co Armagh-based Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) had been referred to the PSNI following an investigation into funding.

The director of the group said the allegations were a “slur” on its members and the victims it represents. Mr Frazer told the Belfast Telegraph the group would “fight this every step of the way”.

Mr Wilson told the Executive that police had been called in to investigate the group after “major failures” were discovered in the use of European Union allocations.

Financial assistance worth around £880,000 had been offered to FAIR — which represents victims of IRA violence — but was revoked by funding organisation the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) last September.

Mr Wilson said: “When the allegations were made they were investigated. When the investigation turned what appeared to be something which was irregular up, the SEUPB then referred it to the PSNI and the investigation lies there at present.”

But Mr Frazer denied the group had misappropriated funds, and said he had not been given enough information about what the allegations related to.

“The SEUPB stated that they came across what they believed to be procurement procedures not being followed through properly,” he said.

“They have yet to tell us what they are talking about.

“Procurement procedures usually relates to paying outside bodies — so it’s not even the victims that are not getting the money, it’s the consultants that they make us bring in and pay £40,000.

“I would put the deeds of my house down to say that if they find any evidence of wrong-doing, I’ll give them my house.”

He said he wanted the chance to prove FAIR has not purposely mishandled funds, and said he intends “to fight this the whole way”.

“Every step of the way we will fight this. This is a slur on our dead. It makes it look as if the victims are in this for money,” he said.

“Families haven’t put their lives and homes on the line for people to dishonour them by saying they’re only in this for the money. It’s not on.”

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