Political news

DUP Irish funding U-turn on Twitter 'inappropriate' says campaigner

The DUP's Paul Givan, and how The Irish News revealed his officials first heard of his Irish funding U-turn on Twitter
Brendan Hughes

AN Irish language campaigner has criticised a former DUP minister after it emerged his officials first heard he was reversing his withdrawal of a Gaeltacht bursary scheme on Twitter.

The Irish News yesterday revealed that Paul Givan gave his department no formal notice that he was restoring the £55,000 Líofa fund.

Mr Givan provoked anger among Irish language campaigners when he scrapped the bursary just days before Christmas last year.

In a u-turn, the former communities minister later reinstated the scheme, saying that he did not want Sinn Féin to use it as a "political weapon".

He announced on Twitter in January that he had "identified the necessary funding".

However, his department has since confirmed it received "no formal written communication" from the minister – and only began work to reverse the cut following Mr Givan's tweet.

In April it emerged that Stormont officials had warned Mr Givan of the impact of shutting down the Líofa bursary ahead of his decision to close it.

Janet Muller, director of Irish language organisation Pobal, claimed there was now a "clear picture of unaccountable and unfair behaviour by the minister".

"This appears to be grossly inappropriate behaviour from a minister with responsibility for public monies. This latest revelation is worrying," she said.

"Clearly, more than ever, we now need the Irish language act that Pobal has proposed."

She claimed Irish has been treated by some with "disrespect", adding: "In the face of such conduct, the Irish language act must deliver real protections and real services, not tokenism."

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