The rules for the next round of European funding for the north and the border region must make it accessible to the most marginalised sections in society, said Sinn Féin Junior Minister Jennifer McCann MLA.
Speaking today, as she submitted Sinn Féin 's response to the consultation on the new Peace IV and Interreg V programmes, she said that the party welcomed proposals in the draft operational programme to simplify and speed up the processes of application and receipt of funds post project approval.
However Jennifer McCann also raised some serious concerns about how some sectors would be able to receive funding.
"We are concerned that in the case of former political prisoners' groups, who have carried out sterling work funded by these programmes in the past, that - unlike in Peace III - they are not named as a target group this time around. The important work of these groups must continue to be supported and funded through the Peace IV programme."
"Similarly, despite a very positive response in the first consultation for a focus being put on the Irish language, there is no reference to an Ghaeilge at all in this latest draft.
“Irish is an important cultural symbol of identity to many here, but in addition, work ongoing in places like East Belfast show that it can be a powerful tool for cross community sharing and building mutual understanding - the exact values these programmes are about".
Ms McCann concluded:
"We will continue to raise these issues, and we look forward to the opening of the new programmes and we will work with local groups in applying for, and hopefully accessing, much needed funds to help build co-ooperation and reconciliation between all our communities.”