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Archiver > ULLANS > 2005-02 > 1107974313

From: "Gavin Falconer" <>
Subject: Agency spending
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005 19:38:33 +0100 (MET)
References: <200502011400.j11E0wC7006763@lists5.rootsweb.com>

This is from today's Belfast Telegraph. Evidently the Dublin taxis were
necessary because Lord Laird didn't feel safe walking from his car to the
relevant venues while in his kilt. Quite apart from the question of why he
didn't simply pack it, no one has asked him why he thought it necessary to
dress up as a Highlander when promoting Lowland Scots culture.

Lord Laird's contribution 'invaluable'
Former agency chief defended

By David Gordon

09 February 2005
The acting chairman of the Ulster-Scots Agency today rallied behind his
predecessor Lord Laird after revelations about his past travel expenses at
the organisation.

As this newspaper reported on Monday, the peer's taxi trips on agency
business in 2001 included return journeys to Dublin costing £240 and £260
each and a Co Derry visit that cost £272.50.

The taxpayer-funded fares came to £2,505 over 10 months during 2001 and

Lord Laird resigned as the cross-border body's chairman in 2004, claiming
its funding had been cut at the instigation of the Dublin government.

The acting chairman of the Ulster-Scots Agency, Jim Devenney, today paid
tribute to the past chairman's contribution.

Mr Devenney said Lord Laird "was not and could not have been financially
compensated" for the extra personal time and commitment he gave the body.

"Lord Laird was an excellent appointment as chairman considering the nature
of his personality, drive, enthusiasm to Ulster-Scots and access to various
Government Departments and key opinion formers," he said.

"He is an extremely busy man with constant demands being made on his time
from many directions and Lord Laird always gave the agency and Ulster-Scots
supporters the best of his time."

Mr Devenney also stated: "As a full-time member of the House of Lords, he
was dealing with Ulster-Scots matters away and above of what he was expected
to do as chairman.

"Not many people would have given up so much of their own personal time to
do this when they didn't have to."

The acting chairman criticised the support and guidance that the agency
received during the start-up phase after its formation in late 1999.

"Whoever was responsible for drawing up the legislation and the
implementation of the Ulster-Scots Agency failed to provide us with a
blueprint or policies for the immense and important task we had to do with a
small board of only eight people.

"After the initial setting up, we were left on our own to get on with it,"
Mr Devenney said.

The agency stressed this week that the taxi bills from its early years could
not be incurred today, as its transport policy places the emphasis on public
transport and private car use.

Spending controls at the organisation were tightened in several areas
following a Government audit probe in 2001.

All the best,


Gavin Falconer

"Tharfor wordly happe es ay in dout
Whilles dam fortune turnes hir whele about."

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