08/11/2018

MLA's Condemn Findings Of Social Investment Fund Audit

Local politicians have condemned the recent findings of the independent NI Office Report into the Social Investment Fund (SIF) and branded it the next RHI inquiry.

The audit uncovered evidence of poor governance of the £93 million fund, along with conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency and accountability.

SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon said the findings bear a "striking resemblance" to the scandal that led to the collapse of power sharing in January 2017.

"Missing paper trails on key spending decisions and the lack of demonstrable value for money across the board is further evidence of the appalling type of government the DUP and Sinn Fein were running in partnership," the North Belfast MLA said.

Mrs Mallon added that it is a "damning report" which highlights how public money was being handed out with no accountability and no clear audit trail.
News Image
"External experts must now be brought in to oversee implementation of the Audit Office recommendations and to ensure nothing like this is allowed to happen again."

Also expressing outrage, Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle echoed Mrs Mallon's calls for an inquiry into the governance of the SIF, and said "deep public concern" has been borne out by the report.

"Whilst some organisations may be delivering good outcomes on several projects, the SIF has been characterised by a lack of transparency and delivery since its inception. The decision of the DUP and Sinn Fein to dispense with proper public procedures for the appointment of steering groups and lead partners is another governance failure by these two parties," Mr Lyttle said.

The Alliance MLA added that lessons must be learned to ensure the spending of vast amounts of public money without proper accountability does not happen again.



(JG/CM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

11 February 2019
£2.9m Investment For Belfast Community Projects
Two community projects are set to benefit from a £2.9 million investment courtesy of Belfast City Council. Plans to develop the north Belfast schemes were announced at City Hall today, Monday 11 February, as part of the Belfast Investment Fund (BIF).
19 October 2017
Police Chief Under Investigation Over Alleged Misconduct In Public Office
Northern Ireland's police chief is being investigated over alleged misconduct in public office. Mr George Hamilton and a number of other PSNI officers are being investigated by the Police Ombudsman. The claims are in relation to how the police handled an inquiry into the awarding of a contract to supply vehicles to the force.
27 September 2017
Two DUP Representatives Forced To Leave Public Meeting
Two DUP representatives were forced to leave a public meeting on Tuesday, 26 September, after being "intimidated and heckled", according to DUP leader Arlene Foster. Gary Middleton MLA and Councillor Hilary McClintock had to be escorted out of the Western Trust meeting which was being held at the Verbal Arts Centre in L'Derry.
26 April 2018
Warning Issued To Public Amid 'Suspect Device' Report In North Belfast
Police in north Belfast have urged the public to be cautious following reports of an alleged device being left in the area. Extensive searches have been carried in the North Queen Street area, however it is understood that nothing has yet been found.
07 February 2019
Other News In Brief
Police To Patrol Belfast Glider Services Police are to start patrolling the Belfast Glider buses in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour, it has emerged. Recent weeks have seen vandalism of both vehicles and ticket machines as well as verbal and physical attacks on staff. The west Belfast area appears to be the worst affected by the issue.