Ulster Unionist Chief Whip, Robin Swann MLA, has outlined his concerns around the ever increasing budget being devoted towards the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure’s ‘pet project’ Liofa, especially considering the current economic climate.
The North Antrim MLA said:
‘’It is concerning to note that the Minister, Caral Ni Cuillin, seems to have a mysterious pot of money to promote the Irish Language through her Liofa project, with funding consistently appearing as and when required.
I was originally informed on 22nd October that there was no specific budget for Liofa and that individual business cases were prepared for expenditure associated with it. This of course enables the Minister to bring forward as many Liofa related activities as she wants as long as the monetary limit that can be approved at business case level within the Department is not exceeded. However, on the 6th September the Minister stated that the Liofa Birthday event at Custom House Square, costing £17,972, would be met through the ‘Departments Liofa budget’.
I have now formally questioned the Minister to establish if she has a designated budget for this project in order to ensure accountability as to whether this money is being spent wisely. I find it highly frustrating that there seems to be money for Ministerial pet projects, but deserving organisations that serve and contribute to the community are starved of support, a current case in point being Sandy Row Boxing Club.”