de Brún welcomes European Council's call for extension of Peace II programme
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the European Council's call for the EU Commission to examine the possibility of extending the PEACE II Programme for two years. Ms de Brún has also called for a separate Peace III programme for the post 2006 EU funding cycle.
Ms de Brún said:
"A number of months ago Sinn Féin launched a discussion paper on the future of EU peace funding for Ireland. The intention of the paper was to initiate discussion and to act as an impetus for political activists, community workers and others to debate and mobilise around the need for the continuation of such funds.
"At the core of that document was recognition of the need for continued financial support for peace building across the island.
"Sinn Féin welcomes the European Councills call for a two year extension to the Peace II programme. This would allow much of the good work which has taken place to date to continue. It would also bring the peace funds into line with existing EU funding cycles.
"There is also a rationale for the creation of a Peace III programme, which would fund organisations from 2007 through to 2013. Sinn Féin‚s all Ireland team of MEPs will continue to lobby for this end both within the EU and with the Irish and British governments.
"Clearly there have been many benefits arising out of the work funded under Peace I and II. However there are many lessons to be learned, and criticisms to be made, which if approached in the appropriate way can ensure that an extension of the Peace II programme can allow community activists to deliver more effective programmes.
"The EU and the British government need to listen to the voices of local communities if they are to learn these lessons.
"The process of designing any future fund needs to be inclusive. Indeed such an inclusive approach to the design of the programme measures could be a beacon for the type of participatory models of preparing for change which we have advocated in this paper. There is need for a much more 'hands-on' role from the European Commission. There willbe a need for greater openness and transparency. There is a need for less bureaucracy and complexity in the application and processing procedures. There is a need for the special inclusion of the Irish speaking community and the promotion of the Irish language as a means of encouraging reconciliation. The principle of 'Social Inclusion' should be central to any programme." ENDS