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PEACE II extension must pave way for new programme for 2007 - 2013 period

3 June, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today welcomed the extension of the PEACE II programme until 2007 and called for a comprehensive PEACE III programme to cover the period 2007 to 2013.

Ms de Brún made her comments at the launch of the extension to the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in the north and border regions (PEACE II) by the European Commissioner for Regional Development, Danuta Hûbner. The launch will take place today at Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

I want to welcome Commissioner Hûbner to Ireland, and particularly to the city of Belfast, which has been transformed in recent years. It is particularly important that the Commissioner hears at first hand from those who have been at the coalface of the difficult but crucial task of peace building. I hope that she will carry back with her a sense of the hopes of local communities here.

I wrote to Commissioner Hûbner within days of her appointment as EU Commissioner asking her to come and visit the North of Ireland. I am delighted that she has responded to the invitation from the local MEPs and others.

"During the course of today‚s visit, Commissioner Hûbner will be able to see at first hand the benefits that have arisen from EU support for peace and reconciliation. Sinn Féin is keen to see that practical support for the peace process continued and built upon in the coming years.

"Sinn Féin believes that the future success of any PEACE III programme will be in its ability to take on board the thoughts and concerns of grassroots organizations and community groups and I call for their full involvement in the design and implementation of funding programmes. Future funding should 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

"On April 18th, I met with EU Commissioner Hûbner in Brussels to discuss present and future funding for the vital work of peace and reconciliation here. I found the Commissioner very open to the argument that reconciliation will be an ongoing and longer-term process. In what was a very constructive and informative meeting, I impressed upon the Commissioner the need for a PEACE III programme to cover the period between 2007 and 2013.

"During that meeting I presented Commissioner Hûbner with a revised dossier on the need for a Peace III programme. The document outlined the strengths and weaknesses of previous peace programmes, and made a series of suggestions on how to make the most of any future PEACE and IFI programmes.

"This is a day to celebrate what has been achieved to date and to look to the future." ENDS

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