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October Monitoring

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:30 pm on 25th October 2016.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 3:30 pm, 25th October 2016

I thank the Member for his question. He and I are on the same page when we say that we are disappointed that it took a long time to get social investment fund money out the door. Whatever the misgivings and discussions in the Chamber, I think that he will be pleased that, in recent months, we have started to see letters of offer issued, whatever the questions around some of those, and we are seeing that injection of funds that was envisaged from day 1. He can take it from me that the £5 million that we have set aside for community regeneration projects will be spent between now and April. It is different from the funds that he referenced in one key respect, which is that it is for capital expenditure only. I am confident because, when I meet Ministers, they always have key projects that are in a queue waiting. If Ministers had all the money that they requested from me, many more projects would be triggered and would be going ahead to start to receive the investment that they require. I am confident that we have projects ready and waiting.

The Member is exactly correct. If these projects cannot be delivered in a five-month period, they will not be delivered before the end of the financial year. That, therefore, precludes any project that would have to start from ground zero, as it were. We are talking about oven-ready projects, and I think that you will find in your constituency and certainly across Departments that Ministers have projects ready and waiting to come forward. However, I want to stress that this is a small intervention of peace-building projects, and I hope that, next year, if the Executive agree, we can bring forward a much larger stimulus package that would make a real impact in many more constituencies and be much greater in scale than what is envisaged here today.