Mike Nesbitt, Ulster Unionist MLA for Strangford, has called on Sinn Fein to apologise for their role in a scheme (the Social Investment Fund) which the Northern Ireland Audit Office report states resulted in ‘wasted effort’ on behalf of voluntary and community groups.
Mike Nesbitt MLA said:
“The statement from Sinn Fein in defence of their role in another Executive scandal is both weak and scarcely believable. Every word put out in the name of Raymond McCartney MLA smacks of desperation as they try to put distance between themselves and a scheme in which a Northern Ireland Audit Office report ‘identifies a number of serious concerns’ and includes conflicts of interest.
“Sinn Fein and the DUP promised people living in poverty that they would invest £80 million in short order to tackle deprivation. It was an empty promise. The Audit Office highlights in section 2.11 of their report that ‘some stakeholders that we talked to highlighted that the process demanded a significant amount of work from voluntary and community groups which in the main was wasted effort.’ Sinn Fein should apologise for their role in that.
“Sinn Fein weren`t peripheral to this debacle. They were front and centre of it alongside their DUP partners in Government. And for that they should hang their heads in shame and apologise for their involvement in yet another Executive scandal, further undermining the public`s confidence in the devolved institutions.
“Rather than engaging the typical Sinn Fein ‘so what?’ approach to criticisms contained in the report, it would serve them better if they seriously acknowledged that how they ran the Stormont Executive alongside the DUP, and the culture that was allowed to riddle it, was wrong and let down the most vulnerable in our society.”