Kearney welcomes findings of probe into ‘appalling’ DUP decisions
Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney has welcomed the findings of an Equality Commission investigation into notorious decisions within a DUP-controlled department which contributed to the collapse of the power-sharing institutions.
The South Antrim MLA was speaking after the Commission announced the outcome of a probe into the 2016 decision to axe the Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme and the £1.9 million Community Halls Pilot Programme, which heavily benefited Orange Halls.
“Both these decisions were the responsibility of Paul Givan, then the DUP Minister for Communities and they contributed significantly to the collapse of the power-sharing institutions,” he commented.
“The scrapping of the Líofa bursary for disadvantaged children, signed off with a ‘Happy Christmas’ message was an appalling decision which was widely seen within the nationalist community as a blatant sectarian and cynical act.
"Similarly, the distribution of Community Halls funding raised widespread public concern, given that the vast majority of the beneficiaries were from the unionist tradition.
“Sinn Féin raised these decisions with the Equality Commission because they clearly showed an appalling disregard for the equality provisions which all departments are legally obliged to follow.
“At that time, I expressed real concerns regarding the practice of institutionalised bigotry directing public policy and disbursal of public funds.
“The findings of investigation have now been published and confirm that, in both cases, the Department failed to comply with its Equality commitments.
“The public need to be confident that there is integrity in government and in the distribution of public money based on objective need. That cannot be the case when equality legislation is ignored. The community now needs to be convinced that there is no prospect of institutionalised bigotry manifesting itself in terms of public policy or funding by any future Executive.
“This case goes to the heart of the DUP’s ongoing refusal to share power on the basis of equality, respect and integrity and this clearly needs to be addressed if any new Executive is going to enjoy public support and confidence.”