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DUP attack on EU peace funding driven by sectarian agenda

1 October, 2004

Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey has accused DUP MEP Jim Allister of pursuing a sectarian agenda after his outburst against the allocation of EU peace and reconciliation funds by the Special EU Programme Body.

Mr Maskey said:

"Thousands of individuals and hundreds of community groups have benefited because of funding through the EU peace and reconciliation programme.

"The allocation of funds through peace II, just as it was in Peace I, and hopefully how it will continue in a Peace III programme must be based on objective criteria. This means that EU peace and reconciliation funding must be targeted and focused. It should be allocated on the basis of objective need and it must support those communities that have suffered as a result of the conflict.

"This means that all sections of our society who have suffered as a result of the conflict should benefit, this includes ex-prisoners and victims of violence. It also means resources are targeted towards communities that have suffered institutionalised discrimination, that live with multiple disadvantage and also border communities that have had to put up with the negative impact of partition.

"Jim Allister's attack on both the Special EU Programme Body and the allocation of EU Peace funding along with his call for 'positive discrimination' towards the unionist population is nothing less than part of his naked sectarian agenda. Under Peace I it is true that analysis shows that the Catholic/Protestant split of funding was 56% to 44%. But this is itself only evidence of the comparative levels of poverty within both communities. Many unionists try to deny that greater poverty exists within the nationalist community but all objective statistic confirm the reality that nationalist communities are still suffering from the legacy of systematic discrimination and disadvantage resulting from decades of unionist misrule and direct rule policy." ENDS

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