28 April 2005

BBC

Grant removed over police remarks


The booklet for ethnic minorities received government funding

The government has withdrawn £10,000 of funding from a west Belfast community group because of comments about the police in an anti-racism booklet.

Minister John Spellar had approved the grant to the Falls Community Council in February to help produce a welcome pack for migrant workers and asylum seekers.

The leaflet described the PSNI as "an extension of the British state" and said the service had "no support".

The government said public money for the project was "inappropriate".

In a letter sent on Thursday, an official of the Good Relations and Reconciliation Division of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister said it was "not in the public interest that potentially vulnerable members of society should be discouraged from seeking police assistance".

In the West Against Racism Network booklet, readers are advised not to call the police unless it is a "necessity" such as for insurance purposes, and not to answer questions about neighbours.

The government emphasised that the use of the department's name and logo in the booklet was "wholly unauthorised" .

It said that it "improperly gave the impression that the department approved its content in relation to the PSNI".

In response, the Falls Community Council said it was "disappointing that this genuine attempt to tackle the growing problem of racism has been undermined".

The council said in a statement that it had been awaiting feedback from the department and would ask it to reconsider the decision.

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