Blair proposes €200 million PEACE III fund for 2007-2013
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today welcomed a British EU Presidency recommendation that the PEACE programme should receive €200 million in funding for the period 2007 -2013. This decision arose directly from meetings held by Sinn Féin with the EU Commission in October and separate discussions in recent weeks with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
Speaking today Ms de Brún said that the proposal was "recognition of the need for a PEACE III programme, for which we have long campaign".
The recommendation came as the British Presidency presented EU leaders with its overall proposed financial perspectives for the period 2007-2013.
Ms de Brún said:
"The British Presidency proposals for a PEACE III programme covering the period 2007 to 2013 are very welcome. The proposals represent a first indication that the British Government is prepared to advocate €200 million in spending on EU PEACE projects.
"Sinn Féin have been lobbying for a PEACE III programme for several years. This work intensified following our entry to the European Parliament last year, with a round of meetings at the European Parliament and Commission. I and party President Gerry Adams met with the EU Commissioner for Regional Development, Danuta Hubner in October and I also met with her earlier this year to personally make the case for continued funding for PEACE and IFI funding. The matter has also been raised formally by Sinn Féin delegations with Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern.
"Work still remains to be done to ensure a further round of PEACE funding is secured and it is imperative that the EU Council of Ministers ratify this proposal when they meet to finalise the Financial Perspectives later in the month.
"The proposal also makes clear that a future PEACE III fund 'will be implemented in full respect of additionality of structural fund interventions' (Point 52 of British Presidency document). This means that a future PEACE III fund must compliment and be additional to existing levels of government expenditure rather than replace it. Sinn Féin will be following proposals closely to ensure that this happens.
"I want to take this opportunity to praise the work of community group‚s right across the country for ensuring that this issue was highlighted and fought for. My hope is that future PEACE and IFI funding will enable them to continue to deliver first class peace and reconciliation work in their local communities.
"Sinn Féin believes that a future PEACE III projects must be targeted towards tackling discrimination and disadvantage and the promotion of peace and national reconciliation. My hope is that such funding will provide a further opportunity to cement the peace process and peace building." ENDS