DUP minister's officials saw Irish funding change on Twitter

DUP minister Paul Givan reversed his controversial decision to cut an Irish language bursary scheme
Brendan Hughes

A DUP minister's officials first heard he was reversing his decision to withdraw an Irish-language bursary scheme on Twitter.

Paul Givan provoked anger among Irish-language campaigners when he scrapped the £55,000 Gaeltacht fund last year just days before Christmas.

The controversial decision and Arlene Foster's "crocodile" comments have led to growing calls for Stormont to introduce an Irish language act.

In a U-turn Mr Givan later reinstated the Líofa bursary, saying that he did not want Sinn Féin to use it as a "political weapon".

The former communities minister announced on Twitter in January that he had "identified the necessary funding" to restore the scheme.

However, it has now emerged his department received "no formal written communication" from the minister about reversing the cut.

In response to a Freedom of Information request from The Irish News, it said work only began on reinstating the scheme following Mr Givan's tweet.

"The department does not hold correspondence relating to reversing the cut to the bursary scheme," the Department for Communities said.

"This was a public announcement by the minister on his party Twitter account. There was no formal written communication from or to the minister on this issue."

In February, Mrs Foster faced criticism over comments in response to a proposed Irish language act.

The DUP leader said her party would never agree to such legislation, adding in reference to Sinn Féin demands: "If you feed a crocodile it will keep coming back for more."

Earlier this month thousands of people calling for an Irish language act took part in a demonstration Belfast.

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