South Antrim Community Network being investigated

South Antrim Community Network is facing two separate investigations
Connla Young

A Co Antrim community group which has received more than £1.5m in government funding in recent years is the subject of two separate investigations.

South Antrim Community Network (SACN) received the funding from agriculture and health bodies over the past five years.

Both the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Public Health Agency have launched separate probes after they received anonymous complaints about SACN last month.

On its Facebook page the network said it “provides community development support to communities within the council boroughs of Antrim, Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus”.

A spokesman for DAERA confirmed that the “group has received funding of £467,000 for the period April 2012 to March 2017”.

“We can confirm that we have received correspondence which makes a number of allegations,” he said.

“As is the case when any concerns of wrongdoing, impropriety or malpractice are raised, we will investigate the allegations which are relevant to DAERA’s contract with SACN thoroughly and take action as appropriate.”

The spokesman said SACN “provides a range of support services for DAERA’s rural community development schemes, including improving awareness, uptake and engagement in relation to a number of initiatives, as well as tackling rural isolation, poverty and improving community relations”.

A spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency confirmed that it has provided £1,080,236 to the group over the past five years.

“The Public Health Agency funds a range of programmes to promote community health and wellbeing in the area served by South Antrim Community Network,” the spokesman said.

She also said that as “investigations are under way, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage”.

South Antrim Community Network did not respond to requests for a comment.


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