23 August 2007 Edition

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Ritchie challenged over Executive discussion claims

Sinn Féin Minister Conor Murphy has set the record straight in relation to the input of the Six County Executive into the decision by Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie to threaten to remove funding to a project being managed by Farset because of ongoing UDA activity.
Last Sunday Murphy said:
“Yesterday in a media interview Margaret Ritchie claimed that she had written to Ministerial colleagues seeking to have a discussion on this funding package. What actually happened was that Margaret Ritchie first announced in the media that she intended to remove the funding. This was done without any Executive discussion.
“Presumably after receiving legal opinion, she then attempted to bring a proposal to the Executive to continue to pay for the funding and seek cover from her Ministerial colleagues for what would have amounted to a U-turn.
“This is not the function of an Executive and the Minister was told this. It is up to each Minister to run their department as they see fit. However if any Minister makes up policy on the media then they cannot expect the rest of the Executive to provide political cover for U-turns or half way houses as they seek to retreat from a publicly stated position.”

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