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Momentum for genuine Peace Dividend growing

3 December, 2004

Sinn Féin national Chairperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has said that the momentum for a genuine Peace Dividend is growing. Speaking after a meeting of the Sinn Fein negotiating panel, Mr McLaughlin said:

"The British government have neglected our infrastructure for decades. This has damaged every part of our infrastructure - our roads, schools, hospitals, railways and sewerage. There is also a damming legacy of discrimination, inequality and disadvantage that must be tackled. The solution is not to increase the tax burden on people here through the water charges and rates increases but for the British government to accept its' responsibility to compensate for this under investment.

"Recently we have seen a £30 million cut in the policing budget and Gordon Brown able to identify an additional £1 billion to keep down the Council Tax in Britain; we have also seen the evident crisis in funding for the Education Library Boards and the failure to increase capacity within the health service hitting waiting lists and threatening substantial deficits over the next three years.

"This identifies the potential of extra resources from the British 'security' budget and that the ability of British Treasury to find additional resources when it requires them. It also highlights the significant levels of need. The British government should not pocket the savings it is making from reducing expenditure in real terms here. It should plough resources back into our budget.

"The British government should prioritise its commitments to underpin work of any new Executive and support a society emerging from conflict. The British government must recognise that peace does not come on the cheap.

"The EU peace funds and the IFI are a recognition that discrimination, the border and partition and conflict have had a huge impact on the social and economic well-being of our society. It is time that both British and Irish governments recognised their responsibility to address the impact of under funding by successive British administrations and their role in peace building.

"The British and Irish governments need to commit to a significant peace dividend so that any new Executive can effectively address the legacy of conflict and division in our community by tackling inequality, deprivation and under funding. There is inequality and poverty in our society, and both must be eradicated if we are to build on the promise of the peace process and Good Friday Agreement. There can be no more tinkering around the edges." ENDS

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