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.
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"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)

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