About that “two party government”..

Despite the BBC’s online report on this, in other reports [which do not appear to be online] it was suggested that the blockage of the EU PEACE III programme funding for the Training for Women Network lies not with the Northern Ireland Executive but, specifically, within the Office of the First and deputy First Ministers who have yet to sign off on the funding package [As long as they can agree – Ed]. According to a spokeswoman for the Training for Women Network on one report I heard they have been told that there was a “problem project” involved in the overall package that was unconnected to the Training for Women Network – it was also suggested that the “problem project” was one involving ex-prisoners.

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  • Half Pint

    A present log-jam in OFMDFM, which I am watching with interest, is the preposterous proposal to give £10m of PEACE III funding to ex-prisoners’ groups, £7m of it to Provo prisoners. Will the First Minister blink on that one too? I hope not!
    http://www.jimallister.org/default.asp?blogID=1307

  • Pete Baker

    Half Pint

    Part of the problem is the lack of detail from all sides on this story.

    And that aside from Jim Allister, which you quote, doesn’t illuminate things.

  • Rapunsel

    It’s hardly a secret. A £6 million grant has been approved for Coiste na n-Iarchimi, the IRA ex prisoners group. Another multi million grant has been approved for a project involving ex prisoners from loyalist and republican groups working together. The arrangement proposed is that grants will be managed by a third party organisation. Whilst I understand grants to TWN and others are also held up , it is worth noting that TWN appear to have joined up with Jim Allister to put a case to europe and others that the women’s sector isn’t getting a specific measure of PIII funds. They’d do well to remember that Mr Allister is not a bit interested in funding for women’s projects but he’d do anything to stop ex prisoner’s groups getting the dough.

    He is right however that the stalemate is due to a stand off between the DUP and SF. All of the projects concerend have gone through the relevant selection meetings, had external economic appraisals conducted and are ready to go. TWN are also right in that their staff and staff in the other groups including within the organisation requested to manage grants for the SEUPB will lose their jobs this week.

    Given the strict EU rules on expenditure being incurred within time limits the delay to date and the further delays if staff recruitment has to start form scratch again mean that millions of pounds are at risk here.

    It looks like the DUP are prepared to see millions of pounds lost , i’d say up to 100 maybe more of people in the community and voluntary sector lose their jobs and all because they don’t want ( despite what some people may think) some good peace projects involving ex prisoners getting the money.

    The important point is that the projects have been selected by mechanisms established and agreed by government. Ministers, despite what they’d like to do can’t substitute projects they’d like replacing others that have went through stringent appraisal processes

  • Half Pint

    Peter,

    It sounds like a plausible expiation though doesn’t it? I mean the exec works on the principle of mutual veto and Marty won’t want to stop support going to his Provo chums while Robinson knows that the TUV will jump on approval of the prisoner funding.

  • Pete Baker

    Rapunsel

    “It’s hardly a secret.”

    Compare the level of detail in your comment with that in the BBC online report.

  • Rapunsel

    Ok fair enough, BBC have done a shit job with this and Mark Carruthers even fell over himself tonight on Radio Ulster to read out a statement from OFMDFM explaining that they hoped to have it all sorted by Friday. Decision definitely taken by BBC to go easy on this one as they more interested in presenting the positive side of joint decision making at the executive. Also I think all of the organisations concerned were unwilling to go to press until now as I understand as TWN have claimed that they’ve been promised for about 3 months that it’ll be sorted out this week.

    I hear that legal action against both SEUPB and the relevant government departments is a potential next step.

    Fairly likely that if that happens expenditure will have to be backdated .

    Looks like could be an even bigger mess for Robinson and Dodds than Margaret Ritchie got into over the CTI grant. That or some sleight of hand as to how grant aid is awarded to avoid handing TUV a publicity coup, or alternatively expect some big announcement in respect of funding for victims groups in advance of or at same time as decisions on these ex prisoner grants?

  • picador

    Rapunsel,

    Very informative but less of the acronyms please!

    SEUPB – is this a loyalist flute band?

    PIII – that’s one of those things that the Brit’s use to stop their dirty secrets coming out in court, right?

  • Mark McGregor

    Funny that Coiste, Tar, FCC, .. etc have all gone through radical reviews and each and every review has meant that any non-SF supporter ended up surplus to requirements.

    Control by dole?

  • Silver Line

    Womens sector should not be put at risk because the DUPs wont back down on funding for ex prisoners it appears Sinn Fein will make everyone suffer which is not right the womens sector has nothing to do with that.

  • picador,

    SEUPB = Special EU Progammes Body
    PIII = Peace Programme 3

    Silver Line,

    Do you not spot the obvious flaw in your statement?

    the DUPs wont back down“, so “it appears Sinn Fein will make everyone suffer …

    Selective blindness is a curse, isn’t it?

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Funny that Coiste, Tar, FCC, .. etc have all gone through radical reviews and each and every review has meant that any non-SF supporter ended up surplus to requirements.”

    you forgot to include the DUP in that list Mark!

  • Glencoppagagh

    What’s wrong with taxpayers’ money not being spent, even European taxpayers’ money? Rejoice, I say.

  • Rapunsel

    There’s a problem where there is potentially maladministration. Organisations were invited to apply for funding, went to considerable effort and expenses to prepare bids , went through rigorous assessment and independent appraisal processes , were told that their bids had been successful, made arrangements to recruit the staff and so forth. These funds represent a net gain for NI and the border counties of Ireland. I’d say there is a problem with the money not being spent as it will in fact result in a direct loss to the NI economy in terms of wages, spending power and the loss of tax revenues.

  • Jim Allister has catalogued [pdf file] Peace 2 funding for these ‘problem projects’. Why you consider paramilitary income from their organised crime wings you’d wonder why such additional funding is necessary.

  • ZoonPol

    Someone frame ‘good’ requests for information to ask the Crown Ministers within the OFMDFM under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

  • Rapunsel

    Nevin

    I challenge you to come out in the open and allege providing appropriate detail which of the ex prisoners projects have organised crime wings.

  • Sean Og

    The loss of 70 jobs in the so called “womans sector” will not harm the economy in any way.

    The idea that there should be a “womans sector” is rediculous and it’s even more rediculous that anyone believes the tax-payer should pay for it.

  • Rapunsel, perhaps my comment was insufficiently explicit. Paramilitary organisations have organised crime wings so you’d think they’d have sufficient funds to look after their members, present and past.

  • Rapunsel

    Ok Nevin, that is not an unfair point but I think it is based on the expectation that there is a strong link between past members involved in ex prisoner groups and current activities of active paramilitary groups than may actually be the case. In my experience some of the groups are so disorganised that you couldn’t make that conclusion as to successfully organise and implement criminal activity does require at least some skills. Either the leaderships

    1. Want to keep these groups clean and away from any criminality
    2. Believe if they can get public funds that’s the way to go
    3. Relationship is not so good as you might think
    4. Criminally obtained funds are “restricted” for identified purposes.

  • Rapunsel, I’m not in a position to know whether or not these former prisoners are present or past members of paramilitary organisations.

  • edward

    Nevin

    that begs the question

    Were they prisoners because they were paramilitaries or did they join paramilitaries because they were prisoners?

    I suspect internment with out evidence turned many of them paramilitaires because they were already prisoners

  • Rapunsel,

    challenge you to come out in the open and allege providing appropriate detail which of the ex prisoners projects have organised crime wings.

    Try this one:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/931247.stm

  • Rapunsel

    Sorry Horseman doesn’t address my point but Nevin had already clarified and I had responded.