Belfast Telegraph

DUP hit out at Bradley's 'appalling and distasteful' peace funding 'bargaining chip'

By Gareth Cross

The DUP has described the Secretary of State's £300m peace funding offer for Northern Ireland as "appalling and distasteful".

Mrs Dodds was speaking after Karen Bradley  unveiled a £300m UK Government funding package to support peace in Northern Ireland, but tied the money to Theresa May's Brexit deal gaining parliamentary approval.

The programme, which includes a further £109m from the EU, is designed to continue support for peace-building projects up to 2027.

Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Bradley appeared to tie the money to the Prime Minister's Brexit withdrawal deal.

"It is a clear example of the certainty that the withdrawal agreement provides to the people of Northern Ireland and why it should be supported," the Secretary of State wrote.

DUP MEP Diane Dodds reacted angrily to Mrs Bradley's comments saying it was "disgraceful and disingenuous" to tie peace funding as a "bargaining chip aimed at securing more votes for the flawed deal".

"For Mrs Bradley to imply that the UK government could choose not to demonstrate similar good faith if a deal is not ultimately reached is a distasteful bluff," she said.

The DUP MEP said that Mrs Bradley's comments were reflective of her lack of knowledge on issues in Northern Ireland.

In an interview last year Mrs Bradley admitted ahead of taking up her position she was "slightly scared" of Northern Ireland and was not aware that unionist and nationalists did not vote for each other.

"It is an appalling snub of the vital needs of communities impacted by years of violence and division in Northern Ireland, including innocent victims of terrorism. This intervention reflects her position as a bystander in the affairs of our Province to date," Mrs Dodds said.

"The Prime Minister has already discarded Paragraph 50 of the December Joint Report which would have given Stormont a legally-binding veto over new regulatory barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

"That report also included a mutual pledge to exploring the potential for future peace support favourably. Sadly, we are now led to question whether this commitment is also in jeopardy."

She said that peace funding must be secure no matter what happens with Mrs May's Brexit deal.

"The DUP believes it is wrong that the interests of individuals, projects and communities relying on peace funding should be exploited for short-term advantage at Westminster," Mrs Dodds said.

"The Prime Minister must move to clarify the Government position and to reiterate all-weather commitments to peace funding in Northern Ireland in all eventualities.”

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