The DUP MLA said, “I have been contacted by some of the women involved in this programme. It has made a significant difference to their personal development and self-worth and they are increasingly concerned that as no decision has been taken by the Communities Minister, they are going to be abandoned by the system. This is hugely important work which stems from the Executive’s Action Plan on Tackling Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime. It is working with around 850 women from across Northern Ireland, often who face difficult circumstances and they are being left in limbo because of indecision and dithering from Deirdre Hargey who operates this programme on behalf of the Department of Justice.
Funding had finished in March, but a three-month extension was put in place and then a second extension was added later. This is a programme which is working with women to build confidence, prepare them to take on leadership and engagement roles within their own community and civic society and assists and empowers them to implement change within their own communities, yet confidence in the project itself is being undermined by this indecision.
I know from my colleague Paula Bradley that this is an issue which has been raised repeatedly within the Communities Committee and it is something to which the Minister needs to give urgent priority. We are less than three weeks away from the end of August yet everyone involved in this scheme still has absolutely no certainty about its future.
Deirdre Hargey needs to step up and provide that clarity and certainty as a matter of urgency. She needs to do better for these women.”