On three fronts – all concerned with squandering tax-payers’ hard-earned money.
Will we see precipitation?
- Front No 1) The red L = Loyalist: Stormont Executive bankrolls Loyalism
Nearly £2 million in public funds from the Social Investment Fund (SIF) was allocated to Charter NI, a “community” organisation, whose chief executive (salary £35,000 a year) is none other than
Dee Stitt, a self-confessed UDA leader.
- UDA = Ulster Defence Association. A proscribed illegal Unionist/Loyalist paramilitary group.
- See some info about its activities here https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/uda-very-british-terrorists/
Other senior employees of Charter NI include east Belfast UDA leader Jimmy Birch and his wife Caroline, former UDA prisoner and failed DUP election candidate Sam ‘Chalky’ White. Stitt and White also sit on a number of the Social Investment Fund (SIF) district steering panels. Their members are appointed by the Stormont Executive and they are responsible for allocating funding. The east Belfast panel,whose members include White as well DUP political representatives Robin Newton and Sharon Skillen, awarded the funding to Charter NI.
Where does the money come from?
The Social Investment Fund (SIF)
A fund that was set up to reduce poverty and unemployment, promote education and health and fix up badly deteriorated property and areas
When was it started?
In 2011. It is a ring-fenced fund of £80m under the control of Sinn Fein and the DUP because it is within the Office of First & Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).
Why was it set up?
Because in 2007, the then Social Development Minister SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie, blocked funding to the UDA linked Conflict Transformation Initiative (CTI). The SIF was set up to prevent such actions, which struck at the pay offs and patronage that underpinned the political settlement,
NB The Mirror has already commented on this fund and how it was not being allocated.
So a fund that was set up to reduce poverty and unemployment, promote education and health and fix up badly deteriorated property and areas now works as a slush fund for loyalist paramilitary groups.
Why are the First and Deputy Ministers financing Loyalist paramilitaries through SIF?
NB The SIF is currently projected to be £13.1m over budget. It was supposed to have been delivered and completed last year. It is now going to be running until 2020.
SF are content to indulge Loyalists as long as their own people are looked after. This equivalence allows Sinn Fein to justify and deflect away criticism of the patronage that is flowing to former Provisionals.
They have a long association with Loyalists – going back to the early 1960’s – and have regularly made use of Loyalist muscle and violence to press their demands. Loyalists also play a policing role within the Protestant community – particularly within the working class – which deters people breaking from the cross-class alliance that is the foundation of Unionism.
UK governments have long viewed Loyalists, and their virulent sectarianism, as an essential tool in securing its strategic interests in Ireland.
Wasn’t the Fresh Start Agreement supposed to eliminate paramilitarism?
Conclusions: a) There is no indication that loyalist paramilitaries are close to disbanding their organisations.
b) Neither the British government nor the Stormont Executive are seriously demanding they cease their activities
c) Stormont’s continued political and financial support for loyalism consolidates and legitimatises paramilitary organisations within Protestant communities.
d) SIF funding indicates the level of institutional support for loyalism. It reveals a system of pay offs and patronage that continues to underpin the political settlement in the north.
e) Clearly the DUP/UDA alliance utterly negates the Fresh Start Agreement – and all the claims that the peace settlement would lead to a democratic and non-sectarian society.
We’re sticking with our DUP First Minister, Arlene Foster, for this Cash for Ash debacle!
- 2) Minister Arlene Foster promoted the Renewable Heating Initiative, otherwise known as “the more wood you burn, the more you earn” scheme
What’s the Renewable Heating Initiative?
A scheme that was run by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI), then headed by Arlene Foster. Set up in 2012, it was supposed to encourage businesses and domestic users to switch to biomass heating systems, mostly burning wood pellets.
What were the incentives?
Businesses get about £24,000 a year over a 20-year term for installing one of the renewable heat systems.
Comment:That’s a generous £480,000 – nearly half a million each!!
The benefits to domestic applicants are less lucrative, with an upfront payment of about £3,500 and £1,200 a year for seven years.
How many people applied?
900 applications over three years and then a further 900 in a six-week period last Autumn (2015) .
Who benefited from this scheme?
Well for example the Hebron Free Presbyterian Church (of which Mervyn Story is an elder) stands to receive £270,000
And Meryn’s mate, fellow church elder, Jonathan McAuley will receive £960,000 in RHI grants at his engineering firm
The brother of Arlene Foster’s special adviser (paid c£85k to help her spot problems such as the RHI disaster) was claiming under RHI scheme
And Arlene’s own Special Advisor Stephen Brimstone, star player in the Red Sky scandal.
More about Red Sky here
So what’s happening?
The DUP is facing calls to reveal how many ‘DUP and government insiders’ benefited from the Renewable Heating Incentive scheme.
Arlene’s facing calls to resign but says
Is the scheme still on-going?
No. It was suspended in February 2016 after a loss of £400 MILLION pounds of taxpayers’ money.
So the scheme paid out more in subsidies than the fuel cost, meaning users could earn more money by burning more fuel?
Yes – if a client buys a bag of pellets for, say £10, gives a receipt to Arlene’s department, she will hand over £13, every time for the next 20 years – and our First Minister hasn’t the wit to realise it will cost her department money
So that’s why it was suspended?
Yes. Officially “in view of the significant financial risk to the Northern Ireland block grant for the next twenty years”.
Whistleblowers brought concerns on several occasions over the years to Arlene’s Dept of Enterprise, but were ignored.
The Audit Office finally investigated what was going on.
- 3) The Hyponatraemia Inquiry
Mums, Dads, relatives wait 16 years for answers to what happened to their children in hospital.
And they are still waiting. . . . .
A low sodium level in the blood. In hospital it is associated with an increased risk of death
Why did Northern Ireland need a Hyponatraemia Inquiry?
To investigate the deaths in hospital of Conor Mitchell (15), Raychel Ferguson (9), Claire Roberts (9), Adam Strain (4) and 17-month-old Lucy Crawford, following allegations hospital staff had made errors when they administered intravenous fluids to these 5 children, causing their deaths
When was the Inquiry set up?
In 2004 but it was suspended on two occasions.
Who is the Chairman?
John O’Hara QC
When did the Inquiry end?
November 2013. The public hearings did not get under way until February 2012, eight years after it was first set up. They were meant to run until November 2012 but as a result of ongoing delays didn’t finish until a year later.
Why are the parents still waiting for answers?
Mr O’Hara still hasn’t written up his final report.
In 2014 he said he regretted there would be a further delay to his final report.
December 2016: The report has still not yet been released. . . .
But an Inquiry spokesman said “The chairman has made significant progress in drafting his lengthy and detailed report,”
Query: Is he transcribing all 179 witness statements by hand, then typing them out on a type-writer and then keying them into a PC?
Claire Roberts’ father Alan (left) said: “We are hugely disappointed by a further delay. The wait for publication of this report continues to cause us immense distress and mental torment.
“However, we continue to maintain that any delay is a strong indication of how serious we believe the medical failures were in Claire’s care and management.
“We urgently need the publication of this public inquiry report to enable us to continue with our fight for truth, accountability and justice.”
How much did the Inquiry cost?
So far almost £15m.
Comment: Everyone knows barristers are paid by the minute!!
TUV leader Jim Allister, said the costs were huge and he was seeking answers.
“The inordinate delay has now been compounded by the extortionate cost. I will be seeking a full explanation and breakdown,” he said.
Comment: An MLA demanding explanations from a QC?
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