EU funding for victims’ group revoked

September 21, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

South Armagh-based victims’ group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) has had more than £800,000 in European Union funding revoked after irregularities in its tendering process were uncovered.

An investigation into the organisation uncovered ‘major failures’ in its ability to adhere to the conditions associated with funding allocation, the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) said.  As a result, it had ‘no option’ but to revoke all financial assistance.

The group’s director, Willie Frazer, admitted ‘some paperwork errors’ but insists every penny went straight to victims and has vowed to fight the decision.

“We would not dishonour our loved ones by misappropriating funding, the SEUPB has admitted that there is not a penny missing, that there are no financial irregularities whatsoever,” he said.

“It certainly doesn’t mean the end of the organisation, but it will have a major impact, because you cannot do things with people without having resources.  And this may be blowing our own trumpet, but we have fought for years within the victims’ sector and if anybody stands back and looks at the victims’ sector there probably wouldn’t be one if it hadn’t been for the work put in by Fair and other groups,” Mr Frazer added.

In a statement, SEUPB said that after a “thorough audit” of the tendering and administration procedures used by FAIR it had uncovered “major failures in the organisation’s ability to adhere to the conditions associated with its funding allocation”.

“The SEUPB is charged with ensuring the proper use of public money and as such has no option but to revoke all financial assistance, (amounting to approximately £880,000), that has been offered to the organisation,” the statement added.

“FAIR has been given every opportunity to respond to and address these issues.  The decision to revoke and recover all financial assistance given to the project has not been taken lightly, however, given the seriousness of the issues no other recourse is available.”

UUP MLA Danny Kennedy says victims must not be forgotten and pledged his support to the group.

“What is crucial in all of this is that we ensure that funding for the innocent victims and their families is not stopped and that those individuals the organization seeks to help are not forgotten,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Along with other local representatives, I will continue to assist the group and their staff resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”