Belfast Telegraph

U-turn over cash funding for ex-prisoner groups in wake of McGuigan killing

Funding vote: Brian Kingston
Funding vote: Brian Kingston
Jim McVeigh

By Rebecca Black

A decision to fund five ex-paramilitary prisoner groups in Belfast has been overturned following claims that it had not been sought in an open manner.

Earlier this year the DUP had supported funding, but last night voted against that committee decision, arguing that it was not politically possible in the wake of the murder of ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan.

The groups, which provide republican and loyalist services for former prisoners in Belfast, had asked the City Council for a nine-month tranche of funding amounting to £237,245 earlier this year.

They include Coiste na n-Iarchimí, Tar Isteach, Tar Anall and loyalist group EPIC.

However, the committee's members instead recommended that only three months worth of funding be given - roughly £80,000.

Last night the council voted to stop the funding and in future groups will have to re-apply and meet new criteria yet to be drafted.

DUP councillor Brian Kingston said: "We don't like these one-off requests coming to us, but there's no doubt that, politically, it was not being supported.

"That was made more difficult because of the murder of Kevin McGuigan."

Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh said the groups were suffering under "Tory cuts" and that is why they had come to the council for funding. He said some were now at risk of folding.

UUP councillor David Browne and Alliance's Michael Long voiced concerns over the application procedures.

The SDLP proposed a motion to re-examine the funding process and set out new criteria for groups to apply for the money.

When put to a vote, 36 councillors, including the DUP and UUP, supported it, while 22 councillors including Sinn Fein and the PUP voted against it.

Belfast Telegraph


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