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Northern Ireland Troubles victims to share £32m funding

By Allan Preston

Funding of more than £30m has been made available from today for victims and survivors of the Troubles.

The Northern Ireland Executive have said they will be welcoming applications until January 4 next year.

Two separate revenue streams make up the funding - £18.7m from the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) as well as over £13m from the European PEACE IV programme for 2017-21.

The money will go towards services such as counselling, welfare advocacy, befriending services as well as personal and professional development programmes.

Welcoming the announcement, First Minister Arlene Foster said: "The Executive remains committed to improving services for victims and survivors throughout Northern Ireland. I am confident that the opening of these two key funding streams will enhance the services already provided by the Victims and Survivors Service."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added: "Victims and survivors are some of the most vulnerable people in society and it is imperative to provide services which are sensitive yet responsive to their needs. Meeting the needs in a way that is outcome-focused and victim-centred is crucial. This funding, in excess of £30m, will go some way to helping us achieve this."

Kenny Donaldson from Innocent Victims United welcomed the news, but said the Executive was still falling behind in terms of resolving legacy issues.

"It does give a degree of continuity of funding which hasn't always been there, so it allows for organisations to plan more which will better impact the lives of victims and survivors," he said.

"However, the key thing is that there is still no resolution around the past at a political level.

"The institutions are not in place. The advocacy work that is funded under the PEACE programme, it's a fair question to ask what work they can actually do in the absence of a settlement politically."

Gina McIntyre, chief executive of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which manages the PEACE IV Programme, said: "This funding will add real value by investing in cross-border health and well-being services that will increase the capacity and quality of care for victims and survivors and their families.

"It will build upon the valuable work that has been undertaken by previous PEACE programmes for victims and survivors by building capacity for professionally delivered, cross-border support services," she said.

In total, 85% of the funding has been provided by the European Union, with the remaining 15% by the Northern Executive Office and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government in the Republic.

Stormont Junior Minister Alastair Ross said: "This is good news for victims and survivors and will make a considerable difference to a wide range of organisations and people in Northern Ireland."

Fellow Junior Minister Megan Fearon said: "This funding is great news for victims and survivors and will help ensure the range of services provided meet the specific needs of those who have suffered most."

For further information contact the Victims and Survivors Service on 028 9027 9100.

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