NI 100: No Stormont budget for centenary outrageous, says Allister

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It is "outrageous" that the Stormont executive has not set aside any money to mark Northern Ireland's centenary, the TUV leader Jim Allister has said.

He was speaking as MLAs on an assembly committee questioned Department of Finance officials about the executive's budget for 2021-22.

Mr Allister said it was a "deplorable fact" that not a "single penny" had been allocated for centenary events.

An official said the UK government was funding the commemorations.

Mr Allister said that as far as Stormont was concerned "the centenary is to be ignored".

Joanne McBurney, the acting head of directorate at the Department of Finance, confirmed that no Stormont money had been set aside to mark the centenary.

Mr Allister repeatedly pressed the civil servant about the issue as she gave evidence to the assembly's Finance Committee.

She said that funding for the commemorations was coming from a "different route", notably the government's Northern Ireland Office.

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Image caption,
Jim Allister says it is "deplorable" that Stormont is not funding centenary events

Sinn Féin assembly members (MLAs) on the committee objected to the manner and tone of Mr Allister's questioning.

Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan said: "Officials are not here to make political commentary."

He also criticised the way the issue was handled by the DUP MLA Paul Frew who chaired that section of the meeting.

Mr McGuigan said Mr Frew should have "stepped in" to stop the line of questioning.

Mr Frew said it was his decision to chair the meeting in the way he felt was appropriate and he also felt it was appropriate all members were able to ask questions.