Orange lodges accept lotto funds despite Stormont claims

Posted By: April 10, 2017

Department’s assertion not borne out by figures

Connla Young.Irish News. Belfast. Monday, April 10, 2017

DOZENS of Orange lodges and halls have received cash from lottery bodies despite claims by a Stormont department that many faith-based groups would not accept such funding.

The Irish News revealed last week that a report had confirmed a DUP-driven grants scheme for community halls was weighted for the Protestant community.

The equality screening analysis published by the Department for Communities found that this was appropriate because many Protestant groups were losing out on National Lottery funding due to religious objections to gambling.

Its Community Halls Pilot Programme has been criticized after it emerged that 34 Orange halls and two Masonic halls were among the 90 successful applicants.

Just two GAA clubs and two Ancient Order of Hibernian properties received cash under the scheme launched by former first minister Arlene Foster and communities minister Paul Givan.

Fifty-eight of the beneficiaries were grouping ‘perceived’ to be Protestant – compared to just nine Catholic organizations.

However, it has since emerged that over the last two years 40 Orange lodges or halls have also shared more than £350,000 in grants from the Big Lottery Fund.

Other loyal orders including the Apprentice Boys of Derry and Royal Black Institution have also received cash, and groups linked to the Orange Order have also benefited from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Randalstown Ulster Scots Cultural Society is to receive more than £8,500 from the Big Lottery Fund to make improvements to Randalstown Memorial Orange Hall, having also been awarded £25,000 from the community halls program.

Last night Daniel Holder of the Committee on the Administration of Justice said the Department should review the criteria for community hall funding “to ensure they are based on genuine indicators of objective need” before it gives out any more money.