Rules on cash for faith groups

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Rules banning some organisations affiliated to faith groups from being funded by Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council are to be reviewed.

Faith groups are excluded from applying for funding from the Council.

However, concern was raised that this would have a knock on affect on groups with a church who used the same constitution, for example Mother and Toddler groups.

At a recent meeting DUP Cllr Mark Baxter called for the line barring faith groups from receiving money to be removed from the policy.

However, he was told by the Director of Leisure & Development (Banbridge) that Officers could review that item, in conjunction with equality and Council policy and bring it back to Committee in October.

Ulster Unionist Cllr Carol Black said she had been approached by a number of Churches and they were part of the community, whom this policy was aimed at helping. She felt that this part needed to be reviewed.

Following a query from Sinn Fein Cllr Gemma McKenna it transpired the council could fund charities if they were a constituted group.

Independent Cllr Paul Berry urged caution that the Council did not set a precedent.

Ulster Unionist Cllr Jim Speers proposed the policy be referred back to the Financial Assistance Working Group for review.

It was agreed that the Financial Assistance Policy be agreed, with the exception of the line “promote a particular religion”.

However, Cllr Maire Cairns said that she felt the faith groups matter was contradictory. She did not think it could simply be removed and required to be reworded.

DUP Cllr Carla Lockhart said it was important that Council did not discriminate against faith based groups.

When asked by Sinn Fein Cllr Brendan Curran, on the difference between faith based groups and groups associated with faith based groups, an officer confirmed many faith based groups were set up as separately constituted parts of the organisation.