Paramilitary funds ‘not at risk’

Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir
Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir

Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir has said that no funding is at risk with regard to tackling paramilitary activity.

He was speaking after he confirmed earlier this week that HM Treasury refused to release £5m to the Executive until it agreed a more detailed plan to combat paramilitary activity.

The minister said: “The Fresh Start Agreement states that the Executive will provide £25m to tackle paramilitary activity and that the British government will match this funding with an additional £25m over five years.

“There is in reality no issue between the NIO and the Executive on this – despite claims to the contrary. It is agreed that the emphasis has to be on getting the plans right so that funding is used most effectively.

“While the Executive has not yet accessed the funding provided by the British Government, this funding is secure and it will be drawn down at the appropriate times, over the five-year period, once plans are agreed. The funding is not tied to specific yearly profiles.

“The Executive has already allocated £1.3m in June Monitoring and a further £2.5m in October Monitoring from the money set aside by the Executive to tackle this issue.”

After the delay in releasing funding was revealed, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said it was clear that the Treasury did not think the Executive’s plans on paramilitarism were “up to standard”.

TUV leader Jim Allister said the Executive had a “total lack of credibility” as Martin McGuinness “denies the findings of last year’s Government panel that the IRA exists [and] has murdered”.