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de Brún makes case for Peace III with EU Commissioner

18 April, 2005

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brún has today met with EU Commissioner for Regional Development, Danuta Hûbner, to make the case for a Peace III fund.

The meeting, which is part of Sinn Fein's ongoing lobby for the peace programme, was described by the MEP as 'positive and constructive'. The meeting also dealt with the Commissioner's forthcoming visit to Ireland and the issues of cross border and transnational cooperation and the infrastructural deficit in the North West Region.

Speaking after the meeting Ms de Brún said:

"Today's meeting with Commissioner Hubner was positive and constructive. She has a clear grasp of the political and economic realities on the ground in the north of Ireland and a desire to assist in seeing the dividends of the peace process maximised.

"The Commissioner had indicated to me at the end of last year her intention to visit the North of Ireland in the course of 2005. I am delighted that she has now set a date for a visit to Ireland in early June and I have asked her to include a visit to the North in that schedule. I look forward to her seeing at first hand the benefits that have arisen from EU support for peace and reconciliation.

"I presented Commissioner Hubner with a revised dossier on the need for a Peace III programme, covering the 2007 to 2013 period. The document outlined the strengths and weaknesses of previous peace programmes, and made a series of suggestions of how to make the most of future PEACE and IFI programs.

"I outlined the need for community based organisations to be fully involved in the design and implementation of the funding programmes. I explained the need for future funds to be directed to the twin goals of reconciliation and social inclusion, in order to combat the legacy of the conflict particularly for those most marginalised in recent decades.

"I also stressed the need for any future funds to be allocated strictly on the basis of need.

"During the meeting we also discussed the need to enhance cross border integration and both cross border and transnational co-operation. EU funding provides member states with opportunities to develop cross border projects. A new Commission proposal to develop European Groupings for Cross border Cooperation would provide added impetus for this.

"We also discussed the need for a greater focus of EU regional policy on the North West region, including Derry, Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Several decades of Irish and British government under investment have created a significant infrastructural deficit in this area which needs to be overcome. Again under the new EU funds there will be opportunities for government and communities to come together and tackle these problems. Doing this in a cross border context would create significant added value to existing projects and initiatives.

"Today's meeting was a constructive engagement on a number of very important issues. Through my membership of the European Parliament's Regional Development Committee I will continue to highlight and work on these issues. It is incumbent upon all Irish MEPs to work together to achieve positive outcomes for the people of the island and I will be more than happy to play my part in this." ENDS

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