SIF operating exactly as intended

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-

“The First Ministers’ Social Investment Fund is operating exactly as planned and constructed – without transparency, accountability or financial probity.

“The opaqueness of its operating rules and in particular the fact that £80m can be distributed to ‘community organisations’ without any procurement filter, or competitive tendering process for the appointment of the lead partners, are flaws put in place to ensure it could deliver to crony organisations and those in the community the First Ministers wanted to keep sweet.

“The genesis of SIF tells us everything. It emerged after Peter Robinson spectacularly lost East Belfast, because loyalists deserted him in droves, as a stratagem to ingratiate the DUP with ‘community organisations’ of influence. (Such equally suited Sinn Fein in its community.) Thus, it is no surprise that UDA facilitation is one of its out-workings.

“After Sir Alaistair Graham’s comments today and other revelations, it is time the NI Audit Office urgently reviewed the closed shop system whereby public contracts as lead partners can be offered only to organisations on the appointing Steering Groups, where no interests need be declared and no competitive tendering is required.”

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