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Opportunities arising from work of EU Task Force must be grasped de Brún

22 November, 2007

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has called on the Assembly to make the most of the opportunities arising from the work of the EU Task Force set up after a visit by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Belfast in May, and has pledged to continue her support for the project at EU level.

Ms de Brún was speaking from the European Parliament as Junior Ministers Gerry Kelly and Ian Paisley Jnr visit Brussels with a range of civil servants from the North today and tomorrow to meet with their EU counterparts as part of the ongoing work of the NI Task Force.

Speaking from Brussels after meeting with those working with the Task Force from the North, Ms de Brún said:

"I am glad to see officials from a range of Departments in the Assembly engaging directly with their counterparts in the European Commission to map out the opportunities that exist for the economy in the North of Ireland in the time ahead beyond the obvious arena of the Structural Funds. We in the North are playing catch up to a certain extent in terms of what is on offer in the European context and a sustained engagement from across the Assembly is need to make the most of the new vistas opening up for 2007-2013.

"I particularly welcome the visit to Brussels today by the two Junior Ministers from OFM/DFM. The visit by Gerry Kelly and Ian Paisley Junior sets a tone of confidence in the future with respect to political, social and economic development in the time ahead. It builds on a visit by a number of Executive Ministers since the summer, which has sent the signal those here at EU level that we at home are very much open for business.

"Assembly members, officials, the Executive and the North's MEPs will all need to work together to ensure the most productive possible agenda for the European Commission Task Force officials' visit to the North next month and to lay a solid foundation for the initial Task Force draft report in the New Year." ENDS

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