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Community groups have vital role to play in implementation of EU PEACE funds -Bairbre de Brún

24 February, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today praised community groups from across Belfast for delivering 'exemplary peace and reconcilation work.'

Ms de Brún made her comments as she hosted a PEACE III seminar for community organisations at the Wellington Park Hotel in South Belfast. The event was chaired by South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey and was addressed by Seamus McAleavey, Chief Executive of NICVA.

In recent months the EU has pledged €200 million in funding for the next seven years to the six counties and border regions, subject to overall agreement on the EU budget. This is apart from whatever extra the two governments provide for this vital work.

Speaking after the event Ms de Brún said:

"Today's discussion proved that those engaged in peace and reconcilation work to date at grassroots level are both willing and able to play a leading role in planning the next round of funding. The event provided an opportunity for community groups and activists from across Belfast to inform us of their hopes for the roll-out of a PEACE III programme between 2007-2013. I was particularly pleased to see the turnout from across the community and from both nationalist and unionist areas of the city.

"Sinn Féin has long called for maximum engagement between those who plan and administer such funding and those groups who will be in receipt. Previous funding has not fully taken into account the concerns raised by the community sector. There must also be recognition of the importance of social inclusion and the role of women in reconciliation. The practical planning for PEACE III must not take place behind closed doors. Indeed, an inclusive approach to the roll-out of PEACE III could be a beacon for the type of inclusion needed in preparing for change more generally and in planning for the future."

Alex Maskey MLA added:

"I want to take this opportunity to praise the valuable work undertaken by local communities throughout Belfast - on education projects, after schools clubs, crèches and cross community work. My hope is that through this next round of PEACE funding they can continue to deliver first class peace and reconcilliation services in their local areas.

"Sinn Féin is only too willing to assist these groups in whatever way possible." ENDS

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