de Brún welcomes EU Structural and PEACE Funding for Ireland
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning welcomed the news that 308 billion Euros (representing 35.7% of the EU's total budget) will be spent on structural funds over the next period (2007 - 2014).
Ms de Brún made her comments before addressing a European Parliament debate on adopting these funds. The vote took place immediately after the debate. During the debate she welcomed a report by Jan Olbrycht MEP on a new legal instrument for establishing cross-border groupings of territorial cooperation and she said that the proposals would be of "tremendous benefit to border regions and to divided countries, including Ireland".
Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:
"Sinn Féin has been lobbying hard both at home and at the European Parliament in support of the Structural Funding programme. I am delighted that 308 billion Euros has been agreed between the years 2007 - 2014 across the EU, although I would like to have seen more to take account of Enlargement.
"Today's vote will ensure that the money will be available from January 1st 2007 as planned. There were fears that the failure by EU leaders to agree on a budget for the next seven years would hold up spending. Thankfully this is not now the case.
"I am particularly pleased that Ireland, North and South can expect more money this time around for cross-border co-operation as well as Euro 200 million for the PEACE III programme. However, we can expect less funding overall than in the past, so it is essential that the funding is put to best use. Structural Funding should be community based and driven, with all sections of the community fully involved in the process. In my constituency, we can learn a lot from other countries with regard to empowering local communities and local democratic structures.
"The EU can play a part in assisting all Ireland social and economic development into the future. Sinn Féin is willing to play our part in facing this exciting challenge." ENDS