EU Funding - Direct Result of Developing the Peace Process
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has said that the DUP MEP Jim Allister had to realise that without the development of the Irish Peace Process which he has so vigorously opposed, there would not have been the massive levels of EU Peace Funding over the past decade which has transformed many communities. He should draw the obvious conclusions from welcoming the PEACE II extension and embrace the peace process also, she said.
Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:
"Significant improvements in thousands of ordinary people's lives across the island have been heralded by the investment provided by EU peace funds in the years since the IRA cessations. These have quite rightly been welcomed across a wide range of political and social opinion.
"The extension of this funding, launched last week by the EU Commissioner for Regional Development, Danuta Hübner on her visit to Belfast, provides an additional EUR144 million of funding to support the PEACE Programme for 2005 and 2006, bringing the total value of the Programme to EUR852 million for the period 2000-2006. Sinn Féin along with many others fought hard to secure this package.
"This investment is tangible evidence of Europe's commitment to, and support for, the Irish Peace Process. It can also help to bring communities together to address shared economic and social problems and opportunities.
"The DUP welcome for the additional funding announced last week seems to fly in the face of their efforts since 1994 and before to scupper the development of the peace process and their continuing opposition to the Good Friday Agreement which it produced. They should draw the obvious conclusions from welcoming the PEACE II extension and embrace the peace process also.
"Make no mistake about it, without the development of the peace process there would be no EU peace funding. If the DUP had been allowed to succeed in their campaign to derail the peace process and if those of us who have supported its development had not been resolute in defending it from rejectionist unionist attack, then many of the communities transformed in recent years would still be marginalised, vilified and abandoned.
"The DUP seem comfortable in welcoming the benefits secured for all communities through the peace process but have not been as forthcoming in exercising the sort of political leadership required in a process of conflict resolution. With the recent increase in their mandate we can only hope that there are those within the DUP who now accept the political reality demonstrated in the two governments' Comprehensive Agreement last December that future progress will be based firmly on the core principles of the Good Friday Agreement and that the peace process has not been derailed despite a decade and more of effort from Mr Paisley and his party." ENDS