Ford satisfied over alleged ‘mystery Orange hall funding’

David Ford said there are worries over the accountability of the scheme
David Ford said there are worries over the accountability of the scheme

A ‘mystery’ Orange hall and Ulster Scots group in Co Antrim have been acknowledged as “established” to the satisfaction of former justice minister David Ford.

The Alliance MLA had been informed of a discrepancy around the Randalstown hall’s postal address by the Irish News and said he would seek clarification to ensure a ‘community halls’ grant of £25,000 was above board.

The Randalstown Ulster Scots Cultural Society, based at the Orange hall on the Portglenone Road, was one of 90 groups that shared £1.9 million of funding from the Department for Communities (DfC).

An Irish News report on Wednesday – under the headline ‘mystery around group offered £25,000 for community hall cash’ – said the hall’s address at 10 Portglenone Road did not appear on the Royal Mail’s ‘postal address file’.

However, as reported in the News Letter yesterday, the group’s association with the hall is well documented and they have previously received grants from the Big Lottery Fund and NI Executive totalling more than £60,000.

Group treasurer Trevor Clarke MLA said there “has been no confusion in the past” and claimed the report was a “deliberate attack” on his community.

Mr Ford told the News Letter: “While inquiries which appear to confirm Randalstown Ulster Scots Society are established at this hall seem to satisfy concerns in this particular case, worries still persist about the overall accountability of this scheme.”