Communities in Transition: Funding

Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 4th May 2021.

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Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:15 pm, 4th May 2021

4. Mr Durkan asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister whether the reported £10 million for the Communities in Transition project is additional money or an existing funding allocation. (AQO 1965/17-22)

Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will ask Minister Kearney to answer this question.

Photo of Declan Kearney Declan Kearney Sinn Féin

I thank the Member for his question. After some very disappointing and erroneous reporting about the Communities in Transition project, I welcome this timely opportunity to remind Members and the public what this important project aims to achieve.

Communities in Transition is about helping communities to break free from the grip of paramilitarism. It is designed and delivered to empower and support those in communities that have been negatively affected by paramilitarism, criminality and ongoing coercive control to bring about positive change. In stark contrast to one unhelpful and grossly inaccurate media report, it is not designed to assist paramilitary and criminal organisations to become community organisations. Any such suggestion is an insult to those working to support communities on the ground.

Funding for the Communities in Transition project, which is part of the Executive's tackling paramilitary activity, criminality and organised crime programme, was due to end in March 2021. During the first phase of delivery, from November 2019 to March 2021, the project had a budget of £8·5 million, which has had a significant impact in communities, from helping to establish community safety fora to re-imaging murals.

In July 2020, the Executive committed, subject to budget availability and match-funding support, to extending the programme for a further three years to March 2024. The match funding was confirmed in February, and, as a result, the Communities in Transition project is set to receive an additional contribution of £10 million over three years to support delivery of the next phase of the project, from April 2021 to March 2024. Although this sum falls short of the initial bid of £12 million, which was made to support delivery, it is a positive development that the project —

Photo of Declan Kearney Declan Kearney Sinn Féin

— has much more surety on multi-year funding, rather than being part of an annual cycle.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

That concludes the period for listed questions. We now move to 15 minutes of topical questions. Trevor Lunn is not in his place.