Only two GAA clubs got funding from controversial DUP grant scheme

Foremr DUP communities minister Paul Givan insisted his community halls funding scheme was open to all
Connla Young

ONLY two of more than 60 GAA clubs which applied to a controversial DUP-led community fund scheme were successful, it has emerged.

The Community Halls Pilot Programme was launched by former first minister Arlene Foster and communities minister Paul Givan during a visit to an Orange hall last year.

In January however it emerged that the vast majority of successful applicants - around 90 - had links to the loyal orders.

Concerns were raised when the cost of the scheme quadrupled to £1.9m and it appeared to favour one section of the community.

At the time Mr Givan branded criticism of him and the scheme as "narrow minded sectarianism".

However figures obtained by the Irish News now reveal that of a total of 850 applicants to the scheme, 61 were submitted by GAA clubs but only two were approved for funding.

The details come amid revelations that a second cultural group based at a Randalstown Orange hall in Co Antrim has been awarded cash from the public purse.

Randalstown Cultural Awareness Association (RCAA) received £4,000 through a small grants scheme, also operated by the Department for Communities.

Randalstown Orange Hall. Picture by Mal McCann.

The development comes after the Irish News revealed that, Randalstown Ulster Scots Cultural Society, received £25,000 through the Community Halls Pilot Programme.

The Orange Order declined to say how many groups use the hall but said it was "utilised by a variety of properly constituted community groups".

Arlene Foster meanwhile said yesterday she never thought about resigning as DUP leader in the wake of the Stormont election.

Mrs Foster told Sky News the election had not been "disastrous" but admitted it was a "wake up call for unionism".




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