Alliance Councillor Michael Long has called for a controversial scheme which handed out hundreds of thousands of pounds of ratepayers’ money without proper checks to be halted.
Last month, the DUP, Sinn Féin and PUP agreed to give £400,000 to community groups for diversionary activities related to July and August bonfires. However, no process appeared to be in place, with Councillor Long saying a carve-up between the parties was used to determine successful applicants instead.
At tonight’s Belfast City Council meeting, an attempt by Councillor Long to get the decision reversed was voted down by the DUP and Sinn Féin.
“It appears the funding on Belfast City Council is allocated on a ‘who you know’ basis as opposed to what you know. Truly, when it comes to the DUP and Sinn Féin, some are more equal than others,” said Councillor Long.
“No-one can work out how the funding works – there is no scoring, no outcomes, nothing. Several of the groups awarded money do very good work but the fact remains no-one else had the chance because there was not a proper process in place, and instead the only groups approved are those the two biggest parties decided to back.
“Alliance has already requested a meeting with the Audit Office over this matter and I am calling on the organisation to intervene directly to stop this squalid and sordid deal. Belfast City Council needs transparency or else it has nothing, and it is clear there that was not in place in this process.”