Lo urges OFMDFM to Urgently Publish details on Minority Ethnic Development Fund

Alliance South Belfast MLA, Anna Lo, has welcomed information that OFMDFM will fund £1.1million for the Minority Ethnic Development Fund for the 2015/16 financial year; however she expressed her concern at the delay in finalising the details. The current funding stream is due to end on 31st March, but how the next round of the fund is going to be delivered has not been decided.

Anna Lo MLA said: “I welcome the decision to maintain the same level of funding for the Ethnic Minority Development Fund; however it is extremely alarming that OFMDFM have yet again taken far too long to come forward with details on how the Minority Ethnic Development Fund will be delivered. The current programme is due to end in six weeks and all the organisations sponsored need to know if they are being funded for the next year. The department has indicated that they would need to go through a number of procedures to run and monitor the fund before they were in a position to advertise for applications. This will take months. The risk is that if there is a delay between funding streams, organisations will be forced to make redundancies or close down. I cannot understand why all the organisations currently funded by this programme cannot have their funding extended for another year in order to ensure continuity of the service provision from these organisations.

“This is a very valuable funding programme and ethnic minority organisations are dependent on it. There have previously been problems over the renewal of this fund but OFMDFM’s Race Unit seem not to have learnt anything from the difficulties in the previous rounds. Whilst groups have been told there will be a fund for 2015/2016, there are no details as to how this fund will be accessed.

“I urge OFMDFM to urgently publish details in order to put the minds of those involved at ease. I tabled a priority written question to their Department six weeks ago asking when these details would be published, and despite being required to provide an answer within days, they have not yet responded. This is unacceptable and it is extremely important they provide these organisations with the information they require as soon as possible.”

Lo Accuses DUP of Hypocrisy Over Petitions of Concern

Alliance Environment spokesperson, Anna Lo MLA, has accused the DUP of hypocrisy for putting down a petition of concern to block a vote on a Local Government Regulation just days after they voiced their anger at Sinn Fein for submitting a petition of concern to Paul Givan’s so called conscience clause.

The regulations would require Councils to put the new call-in procedure into their standing orders.

Anna Lo MLA said: “Once again the DUP have used a petition of concern to block a vote, yet they have done so just days after they expressed their anger at Sinn Fein for submitting a petition of concern to the so called conscience clause. It is completely hypocritical for them to oppose one party using a petition of concern when they then do the exact same thing a week later.

“The call-in procedure is meant to protect minority groups on the new Councils, yet the DUP have used the petition of concern system, which was meant to protect equality and human rights, to block this new system. They are abusing a veto procedure at Stormont because they believe the veto system at Local Government is too easy to abuse. Their hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me.

“They have repeatedly misused the petition of concern system to block debates that this system was never intended for. They are addicted to using petitions of concern.

“The DUP never once raised concerns before this debate, yet all of a sudden they are so opposed to these regulations that they have sought to block it. Once again the ‘Democratic’ part of the DUP’s name could never be further from the truth.”