Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Questions asked over £50,000 for Orange Order toilets

22 September, 2008

Sinn Féin Armagh City and District Councillor Mary Doyle has spoken out after she received confirmation from council officials that approximately £5000 had been spent last year and every year for at least the last ten years, totalling up to £50,000, by the council to provide toilet facilities for various Loyal Order Parades and other related events.

Cllr Doyle said

"I have concerns that not all community, sporting and voluntary groups were even aware of that this funding was even available from the council and whilst some other community and sporting groups did avail of this service from the council it was a much smaller amount. When I enquired about the policy for such spending of public money, I was told that "it has not been possible to locate", but that a budget of £10,000 had been put aside for the last ten to twelve years to fund this.

"I have grave concerns that this council has not been open and transparent and that council officials have taken it upon themselves to spend public money without a policy as I and my party colleagues were not even aware of this. I will question the council on this issue and I will ask them if there are any other streams of money leaving this council that only a few know about?

"This facility which the council has been providing has been very one sided and leads me to believe that only one side of the community was aware of its existence."

Cllr. Doyle concluded,

"While some may think this is a small sum there are many occasions when groups in this area can't even obtain a small sum of money to help fund community events due to the very strict financial assistance policy and the criteria which must be followed in Armagh Council, yet this money is given out without even a policy.

"While I do accept that there are environmental and health issues involved in public events, if this facility is to continue then the Armagh council needs to adopt a policy and it should be delivered in an open transparent and equal process throughout the community, as all services should be." ENDS

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