Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Ministers aim for EU peace funding

Eamon Gilmore (right) and Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson speak to the media outside Stormont Castle

Another tranche of European peace funding worth around 330 million euro to Northern Ireland and the border counties is to be bid for by the London and Dublin governments.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will identify community projects for a Peace Four running from 2013 for six years, Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said.

The plan was announced following meetings between Mr Gilmore, the first and deputy first minister and the UK's Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson at Stormont.

Mr Gilmore said: "What we would like to see is something of the same size (as Peace Three) being able to continue but we have to first of all have an assessment of Peace Three... and see whether proposals can be brought forward for a Peace Four."

Mr Paterson said the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) would be in charge of forming the proposal.

Peace Three supports a range of voluntary groups in deprived areas such as north Belfast which are trying to regenerate communities.

Last summer European Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn indicated his support for a continuation of "a significant amount" of European funding after the current Peace Three money runs out in 2013.

Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore is visiting Washington DC early next month when the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) is expected to be discussed.

The IFI is supported by donations from the European Union and the governments of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is dedicated to developing and funding initiatives to promote integration, to building a lasting peace in Northern Ireland and in the border counties in the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Gilmore said budgets are tight everywhere: "I will have those discussions in Washington early in February then further meetings between the Secretary of State and myself," he said.

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