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Dodds – Payments in error will be recovered

Less than 2% of nearly 25,000 payments issued were wrongly made.

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Payments made in error through Stormont’s emergency Covid grant scheme will be recovered, Economy Minister Diane Dodds said (David Young/PA)

Payments made in error through Stormont’s emergency Covid grant scheme will be recovered, Economy Minister Diane Dodds said (David Young/PA)

Payments made in error through Stormont’s emergency Covid grant scheme will be recovered, Economy Minister Diane Dodds said (David Young/PA)

All erroneous payments to ineligible businesses through Stormont’s emergency Covid grant scheme will be recovered, Economy Minister Diane Dodds vowed.

More than 400 firms received the money wrongly.

Initial delays in repayment prompted the resignation of four Sinn Fein members.

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Initial delays in repayment prompted the resignation of four Sinn Fein members, including former MP Elisha McCallion (Liam McBurney/PA).

Initial delays in repayment prompted the resignation of four Sinn Fein members, including former MP Elisha McCallion (Liam McBurney/PA).

PA

Initial delays in repayment prompted the resignation of four Sinn Fein members, including former MP Elisha McCallion (Liam McBurney/PA).

The economy minister said: “I am content that my department took the necessary swift action to support tens of thousands of businesses and jobs under threat caused by the Covid-19 crisis.”

Under the scheme, a £10,000 payment was automatically sent to any firm in receipt of small business rate relief.

Less than 2% of nearly 25,000 payments issued were affected.

A total of 74 have been recouped in full.

Mrs Dodds said her department would “put in place a full process” to recover ineligible payments.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has backed calls for a police probe into delays in repaying Covid-19 support payments.

Sinn Fein’s former West Tyrone Assembly member Catherine Kelly became the fourth member of her party to resign over the relief cash.

Ms Kelly tendered her resignation to party leader Mary Lou McDonald on Saturday afternoon.

Ms McDonald acknowledged and apologised “once again” for the “clear failure to immediately reimburse public money”.

Three other party activists, including former Foyle MP Elisha McCallion and officials in Upper Bann and West Tyrone, stepped down.

There have been eight further Covid-19-linked deaths in Northern Ireland and 493 new cases of the virus, the Department of Health has announced.

The toll recorded by the department stands at 724.

Stormont leaders have urged Michael Gove to extend the furlough scheme beyond the end of November.

Deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill said it would provide a lifeline to many struggling during the pandemic.

She joined members of the Scottish and Welsh administrations during Monday’s talks with the Cabinet Office.

Northern Ireland’s schools have reopened with special safety measures following the extended mid-term break.

They include the mandatory wearing of face coverings for post-primary pupils on school transport.

Education minister Peter Weir has urged parents and carers not to congregate at school gates when dropping off pupils.

PA


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