Concern at direct rule approach to peace and reconciliation funding
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has expressed concern at suggestions of a less than wholehearted approach by the Department of Finance and Personnel to the agreed joint bid by the Irish and British governments to the European Commission for the extension of PEACE II funding beyond 2004.
Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:
"I understand that the Department of Finance and Personnel is seeking to bid for substantially less money to fund peace and reconciliation programmes in the agreed approach from the Irish and British governments to the European Commission for beyond 2004. This would send out a very bad signal about the commitment of the British government to national reconciliation and peace building.
"Projects and initiatives funded through the PEACE programme have made a vital contribution to the process of conflict resolution. If, as is being suggested, the direct rule administration is setting its opening bid at roughly 50% of the current level of support, the level of this valuable work will not be sustained. We should not have a situation where the British government sends signals to the European Commission that less money is needed at this time.
"There is a clear commitment from both governments to bid for the extension of PEACE II beyond 2004. It is also clear that the Irish government is putting together a case for funding to remain at its current level. However, the approach of the direct rule administration in the north appears to demonstrate a lower level of commitment to the work of national reconciliation and peace building.
"I will be raising this issue with both governments as a matter of urgency. It is vital that we put in place long term commitments to build upon the important work that is being supported through the Peace II programme throughout Ireland, particularly in border communities and communities that have suffered greatly as a consequence of the conflict." ENDS