Bands and halls funding schemes won't return without Stormont approval

The DUP's Paul Givan launching the bands funding scheme on July 11 last year when he was communities minister
Brendan Hughes

CONTROVERSIAL funding schemes for community halls and musical instruments for bands will not return this year without approval from an executive minister, a Stormont department has confirmed.

The Community Halls Pilot Programme was introduced last year by the DUP's Paul Givan when he was communities minister.

He also revived the Musical Instruments for Bands scheme on the eve of the Twelfth of July in 2016, a year after it was suspended by his Sinn Féin predecessor.

Mr Givan initially allocated £200,000 to the bands scheme before a further £100,000 was set aside, while the community halls scheme's cost nearly quadrupled to £1.9m.

The community halls programme is currently being investigated by the Equality Commission alongside the former minister's handling of an Irish language bursary scheme.

In January Mr Givan defended his community halls funding programme after it emerged most beneficiaries were from the unionist community.

He insisted the initiative was "open to all and made no distinction based on the community identity of the organisation".

Asked about the halls and bands funding, the Department for Communities said for both that "any further financial allocations to a scheme will be for consideration by a future minister".

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