Fund to Help the Victims

Article excerpt

A SPECIAL fund to help victims of terrorist violence was one of more than 30 proposals revealed in yesterday's revised budget at Stormont.

Finance Minister Mark Durkan announced the move as part of a pounds 39m boost for public services from the cross-departmental Executive Programme Funds.

Other sectors to benefit from the extra cash include: community regeneration, education, equality promotion and sport.

''The allocations provide further evidence of the way in which the devolved administration is beginning to work in new and distinctive ways,'' said Mr Durkan.

He said the Victims Fund would match money being provided by the NIO in support of the strategy to help those directly affected by the Troubles.

At a glance, aside from health, the overall 2002-03 budget provides funding for the departments as follows:

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will have a budget of pounds 203.8 million for 2002-03, a net increase of pounds 8.4 million, or 4.3 per cent, compared to 2001-02.

Mr Durkan said: ''The increase will be used mainly to carry out BSE testing, introduce a scrapie eradication plan and provide for the maintenance of inspection and control at ports in the aftermath of foot-and-mouth disease.''

Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure will have a budget of pounds 80.3 million, a rise of pounds 7.6 million.

Mr Durkan said: ''As well as meeting the cost of the libraries staff job evaluation outcome, the increased budget provides for the development of museums and the continuation of the sports ground improvement programme.''

The Department of Education will have pounds 1,407.3 million to spend on education services, up 5 per cent or pounds 66.6 million.

Mr Durkan said: ''The budget will allow mainstream education to be sustained at current levels, further progress to be made in raising standards of literacy and numeracy and improving the condition of schools' estate.''

The Department for Employment and Learning will have a budget of pounds 618. …