Northern Ireland

Ulster-Scots Agency spent 'unapproved' £400,000

The Ulster-Scots Agency spent almost £400,000 of public funds over 12 months without the proper authority, according to its most recent set of accounts.

Some of the money was spent producing a newspaper and on accommodation costs, without proper approval being sought.

The accounts of the north-south language body are traditionally late so the most recent figures are for 2010.

The agency said "everyone involved has been working hard to address" the issues, including its late accounts.

These accounts show that the agency spent £126,000 on rent and service charges for its Great Victoria Street offices in Belfast city centre without getting a formal business case approved before it moved into the building.

The audit also reveals that £176,000 was paid out in 2009 and 2010 for the production and distribution of the agency's newspaper, the Ulster Scot, again without the proper procedures and rules being followed.

The Ulster-Scots Agency was established as a part of the north-south language body set up under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

It is jointly funded by the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL) in Northern Ireland and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the Republic of Ireland.

Its aim is to promote the use of Ulster-Scots as a living language and to promote an understanding of Ulster-Scots history and culture.

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