§ 11. Mr. Flannery
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the current status of funding of community groups previously funded by the Belfast city council; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Dr. Brian Mawhinney)
Action by a Government-appointed commissioner on 8 October released city council funds to community groups in Belfast for the rest of the current financial year. I regret that this action became necessary as a result of the non-cooperative attitude of a majority of the Unionist councillors on Belfast city council.
§ Mr. Flannery
Is it not a fact that there are about 40 of those voluntary community groups and that the Government knew in advance that the Unionists would refuse to service people because of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and that people are losing their jobs in those groups? Is it not a fact also that the Government knew well in advance that the money had run out, yet they were tardy in giving money to those groups? May we have an assurance that that will not occur again?
§ Dr. Mawhinney
No, I could not accept that. The responsibility for funding such groups remains with the Belfast city council. Therefore, the Government could not act until it became clear, after the end of September, that the council was not going to act. I can confirm that the action of the Commission on Housing has involved authorising running costs for 41 groups involving grants totalling £395,815.