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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
NIO rejects 'funding spin' claims
David Hanson
David Hanson made the announcement in January
The NIO has rejected claims by the umbrella body for voluntary groups that its plans for loyalist communities are "more spin than substance".

Nicva said the 33m announced by the government was only an extra 2% overall and that all the money would be spent on the Shankill area of west Belfast.

However, Social Development Minister David Hanson said his strategy would make a real difference.

Its aim was to "empower Protestant areas to tackle deprivation".

It was drawn up following concerns that policies were not making the intended impact in loyalist districts.

'Demanding more'

However, Paul McGill of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, said funding should be on the basis of need rather than religion.

"We believe the government has been playing a very dangerous game in introducing this sectarian element - that 'we will fund Protestant areas'.

"Protestant areas will start saying: 'Hold on a minute, you are not funding us - we are only getting a couple of million pounds out of this'... and they will be demanding more.

"And Catholic areas will then, presumably be demanding more, on the basis of their religion."

However, Mr Hanson said there was "real money on the table, doing real things, and making improvements in the lives of people throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland".

"There is a range of resources which will be beneficial for the Shankill and there is a range of resources that are in the document - part of the 33m that I announced.

"Of that, 21m is available for the Greater Belfast area, including the Shankill."

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