Public Accounts Committee Calls North/South Bodies To Account

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 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

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