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Latest insight into Líofa funding cut reflects badly on Paul Givan

While the Renewable Heat Incentive debacle caused deep unease in the months leading up to the collapse of the Stormont institutions, arguably it was the axe taken to a Gaeltacht bursary scheme that showed beyond doubt that the DUP was not interested in power-sharing based on mutual respect.

Then communities minister Paul Givan caused an outcry when just days before Christmas he scrapped the £55,000 funding for the Líofa scheme, a petty move widely interpreted as demonstrating a contemptuous and narrow-minded attitude to those interested in our shared culture.

Whatever his intention, it was a move that completely backfired, helping to stoke the outrage that fuelled a surge in nationalist votes.

It also intensified calls for an Irish Language Act, an issue that continues to dominate the political agenda and is a central element in talks to restore the Stormont executive.

Even though the minister reversed his decision within a short period, the damage had been done.

However, attention is now focused on the how he arrived at the decision in the first place and why he later changed his mind.

In January Mr Givan announced on Twitter that he had "identified the necessary funding to advance this scheme''.

Such an announcement on social media would usually be accompanied by a more detailed official statement from the minister's department but this did not happen, which was rather curious.

Following a freedom of information request, it seems that officials only found out about the U-turn when it appeared on Twitter and it was only then that work began on reinstating the scheme.

At the very least, this is a strange way to conduct ministerial business and will raise further questions about how the minister was able to determine the money was available for the bursary after all and why it was so important to cut it in the first place.

What can be said with certainty is that this whole sorry episode reflects badly on Mr Givan and how the DUP operated during its time in government.

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