Press Release

Public Accounts Committee Calls North/South Bodies To Account

Session: 2009/2010

Date: Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Reference: PAC 17/09/10

The North/South Bodies, set up under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement have come under scrutiny from the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee.

Speaking at the launch of their first report into the bodies, Paul Maskey MLA, Chairperson of the Committee, said: “Our evidence session with North/South Bodies was very informative and proved to be a useful first contact. The Committee used this opportunity to examine general issues that apply to all the Bodies. In addition, we looked at issues specific to InterTradeIreland, which encourages cross-border business development and to the Special EU Programmes Body which administers the PEACE and INTERREG programmes.

“Since North/South Bodies are funded jointly by the Northern Ireland Assembly and Dáil Ếireann in varying proportions, we examined how these arrangements are working in practice and whether they are supporting high standards of financial management and accountability.”

The Committee addressed issues in a number of areas including the timely provision of accounts, inconsistencies in governance arrangements, retention of cash reserves, the complexity of EU programmes and measuring the impact of PEACE programmes.

Mr Maskey added: “I particularly welcome comments from the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, and Finance and Personnel that their oversight arrangements for their respective North/South Bodies are the same as exist for any other sponsored body, with the additional consideration of their corresponding Department in the Republic of Ireland. This is a sound principle which the Committee endorses.”

“This has proven to be a worthwhile exercise in our oversight of North/South Bodies. I found our discussions with our counterparts in Dáil Ếireann particularly useful, as it provided us with an opportunity to co-ordinate our work and so examine a wider range of bodies. As we move forward, I am in no doubt that we will return to this subject to ensure that progress has been made in the implementation of our recommendations.”

ENDS


Notes to Editors:

1. InterTrade Ireland is the trade and business development body for the island of Ireland established under the North/South arrangements in 1999. It is overseen jointly by Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in the Republic of Ireland and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland. It is based in Newry and its Board is appointed by the North South Ministerial Council.

2. The SEUPB is a North South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Finance in the Republic of Ireland. One of the SEUPB’s principal aims is to promote cross-border co-operation through the implementation of the European funding programmes, the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation for Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland 2000-2004 (PEACE II), as well as the programme’s extension (2005-2007) and the INTERREG IIIA Programme. It is also managing and implementing two new EU funding programmes, EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation for Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland 2007-2013 (PEACE III) and the Cross-Border Territorial Cooperation Programme 2007-2013 (INTERREG IVA).

3. Standing Orders under Section 60(3) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 have provided for the establishment of the Public Accounts Committee (the Committee). The statutory function of the Committee is to consider accounts and reports on accounts laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly. These are compiled and laid by the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland (C&AG), head of the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

4. The C&AG is empowered to investigate any area of expenditure and has a statutory right of access to all files and papers in Departments and public bodies.

The PAC Committee members are:

Alliance

Mr Trevor Lunn

Democratic Unionist Party

Mr Jim Shannon 7

 


Mr Stephen Moutray 12

 


Mr David Hilditch 6,10

 


The Lord Browne 3,4,5,9,11

Sinn Fein

Mr Paul Maskey (Chairperson) 2

 


Mr Mitchel McLaughlin

Social Democratic and Labour Party

Mr John Dallat

 


Mr Patsy McGlone 1,8

Ulster Unionist Party

Mr Roy Beggs (Deputy Chairperson)

Independent

Ms Dawn Purvis

1 With effect from 04 March 2008 Mr Thomas Burns replaced Mr Patsy McGlone.
2 With effect from 20 May 2008 Mr Paul Maskey replaced Mr John O'Dowd.
3 With effect from 1 October 2007 Mr Mickey Brady replaced Mr Willie Clarke.
4 With effect from 21 January 2008 Mr Ian McCrea replaced Mr Mickey Brady.
5 With effect from Tuesday 27 May 08 Mr Jim Wells replaced Mr Ian McCrea.
6 with effect from 15 September 2008 Mr George Robinson replaced Mr Simon Hamilton.
7 with effect from 15 September 2008 Mr Jim Shannon replaced Mr David Hilditch.
8 with effect from 29 June 2009 Mr Patsy McGlone replaced Mr Thomas Burns.
9 with effect from 18 September 2009 Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson replaced Mr Jim Wells.
10 with effect from 18 September 2009 Mr David Hilditch replaced Mr George Robinson.
11 On 19 April 2010 The Lord Browne replaced Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson.
12 On 19 April 2010 Mr Stephen Moutray replaced Mr Jonathan Craig.

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