TUV leader Jim Allister slams response to Assembly Question from Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey
The Department for Communities has no plans to create a capital fund to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland.
Following an Assembly Question by TUV leader Jim Allister, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey explained no funding will be made available to sporting groups.
Secretary of State Brandon Lewis announced a £3m funding commitment from the UK Government last month to mark the event.
However, when asked what plans the Department for Communities (DfC) has by Mr Allister, Ms Hargey replied: “ There are no plans to create a centenary capital fund for sporting groups.
“Sport NI, an ALB [Arms Length Body] of the Department, is a lead body for the development of sport here.
“Any investment it provides to the sector is to improve sports facilities, increase participation opportunities in sport for all abilities and to build capacity to continue to develop sport at all levels from grassroots up to high performance.”
Mr Allister stated that the refusal of a centenary capital fund shows “just how inclusive Sinn Fein’s vision for the future is”.
“2021 has the potential to be year of celebration across Northern Ireland and the entire UK as we mark 100 years since the foundation of Northern Ireland and the creation of the United Kingdom in its present form,” he said.
“However, it appears those celebrations will not be assisted by the department which should be taking the lead on such an historic occasion given its remit when it comes to historic and cultural issues, the Department of Communities.
“The dismissal by the minister of my suggestion that a centenary capital fund be opened shows just how inclusive Sinn Fein’s vision for the future is.
“If unionists want to know how their identity will be treated in any ‘agreed Ireland’ they need only read this curt answer.”
Mr Allister added that it was “scandalous” the DfC could not provide funding following the “many millions” spent on GAA, particularly west Belfast’s Casement Park.
“Northern Ireland has produced many world-class sportsmen and sportswomen who have excelled on the global stage and it is shameful that this unique opportunity to reflect on those achievements and inspire future generations has been missed,” he continued.
“This decision once again highlights the madness of having a party in the government of a country it does not wish to exist.”
Sinn Fein and the DfC have both been asked for a response.