Page last updated at 07:42 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 08:42 UK

7m for 'non-existent academy'

Ulster Scots
Plans for an Ulster Scots Academy have run into trouble

The Department of Culture has allocated £7m to be spent on an Ulster Scots institution which does not exist yet.

The money has been set-aside for the use of the Ulster-Scots Academy over the next two year.

The academy was supposed to be up and running two years ago but has been hit by severe delays.

The department said it is committed to the academy, but Sinn Fein's Barry McIlduff said the money should be spent on other arts projects.

In 2004 government approved the idea of an academy, which would teach Ulster-Scots to high academic standards.

An implementation group was set up in 2005, with a budget of £12m.

Credibility

It was asked to come up with proposals which could deliver an academy by 2007.

However, when proposals were produced in 2006 they were strongly criticised and the department asked consultants to review the project.

It is understood that review is still not completed.

Almost half of the original £12m budget has been handed back.

Mr McIlduff said it "lacked credibility" to set aside £7m for an organisation which did not have the capacity to spend it.



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