DUP and Sinn Féin accused of “shameless carve-up” over funding cut for disabled kids…

Excellent reporting from Brendan Hughes over at the BBC:

A Belfast charity for children with special needs has had its proposed council funding increased after facing a potential cut of 97%.

Sólás is set to receive about £308,000 for a building project following a decision on Monday night.

It was originally earmarked for £800,000.

However, there was a political row over proposals to reduce its allocation to £24,744 and share the rest among other community groups.

Other parties on Belfast City Council branded the plan by Sinn Féin and DUP councillors a “shameless carve-up”, but Sinn Féin said not all funding applicants can be successful.

The issue was debated on Monday night at a meeting of Belfast City Council behind closed doors.

A proposal to reinstate the original £800,000 was voted down.

But a majority backed a DUP proposal to award £500,000 to both the Market Development Association and the Greater Village Regeneration Trust, and about £308,000 each to three other groups – Sólás, Lower Ormeau Residents’ Action Group (LORAG), and Fitzroy Presbyterian Church.

The money is part of the council’s £10m Neighbourhood Regeneration Fund, aimed at helping groups deliver capital projects in their communities.

Twenty-one projects were shortlisted for neighbourhood regeneration funding, with £1.92m due for six schemes in south Belfast.

Its area working group – a sub-committee made up of local councillors – recommended Sólás should be allocated £800,000 to develop a three-storey building and outdoor space for the charity.

The rest of the funding was to be divided equally (£224,949 each) between the other five groups – the Market Development Association; Greater Village Regeneration Trust; Hearth Historic Buildings Trust; Lower Ormeau Residents’ Action Group (LORAG); and Fitzroy Presbyterian Church.

But at a council committee in December, Sinn Féin and the DUP overturned the plan.

Their councillors instead proposed more than doubling to £650,000 the funding allocated to both the Market Development Association and the Greater Village Regeneration Trust.

The new plan also increased to £300,000 the funding earmarked for LORAG and Fitzroy Presbyterian Church.

Originally Sólás had its funding cut to £24,744, while the Hearth Historic Buildings Trust – which wants to redevelop Riddel’s Warehouse on Ann Street – had its share reduced to zero.

Cutting funding for kids is never a good look. Cutting funding for disabled kids is, to quote Green Party councillor Áine Groogan “utterly reprehensible”

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