The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has called out [pdf, p24] the DUP on sectarian decision-making.
It found [pdf, p1] the Department for Communities (DfC), headed by DUP minister Paul Givan, “failed to comply with its approved Equality Scheme” when cutting funding for the Irish language. And at the same time increasing [paywall] funding going to Orange Order halls.
Background to Equality Commission call
DUP minister Paul Givan cut funding to an Irish language bursary scheme called Líofa in December 2016. Martin McGuinness cited this decision as one of his reasons for resigning as deputy first minister. Then, in 2017, after public outcry, Givan was forced into an embarrassing U-turn and restored Líofa funding.
Irish language bursary and Orange halls
Líofa (Irish for ‘fluent’) aimed to support “a greater number of fluent Irish speakers”. It was in receipt [pdf, p3] of funding from the former Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) from 2012 until 2016. DfC assumed DCAL’s responsibilities in May 2016 and cut Líofa’s funding for 2017. In the meantime, DfC increased [pdf, p4] funding for the Community Halls Pilot Programme, which benefited [pdf, p11] Protestant organisations like the Orange Order.
This Community Halls Pilot Programme was to [pdf, p4] “invest in community halls and prioritise those in the worst condition”. And it aimed [pdf, p4] to reach organisations “who do not wish to attract Lottery funds”. The Orange Order claimed it did not wish to attract lottery funding because of its links [paywall] to gambling. But it received [paywall] £350,000 lottery funding regardless.
Findings, recommendations, and reaction
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland found [pdf, p24] the DfC “failed to comply with its approved Equality Scheme” in assessing both Líofa and the Community Halls Pilot Programme. The Commission also found [pdf, p24] it didn’t use “tools of screening” to assess the likely impact “on the promotion of equality of opportunity”.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
The Commission recommends [pdf, p26] the DfC should:
prepare an equality assessment (screening and EQIA, as necessary) of the Líofa Bursary Scheme to inform any future submissions to the Minister to seek approval for an annual funding allocation
it is clear that there was a deliberate agenda to target and get rid of this scheme. This was just the latest in a long line of decisions from DUP Ministers attacking the Irish-language and Irish-medium education.
As stated by the Commission, duties on equality must [pdf, p.15] be of “substance” and not merely a “tick boxing” exercise. This must be applied to all communities equally, and there should never be a repeat of such sectarian decision-making.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Featured image via Ardfern – WikiMediaSupport us and go ad-free
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.