Belfast Telegraph

EU Election 2019

Allister rounds on Eastwood's 'exaggerated' EU funding claims

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood in front of his anti-Brexit bus
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood in front of his anti-Brexit bus
Jim Allister
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

Jim Allister has hit out at claims by SDLP leader Colum Eastwood that the EU sends €500m a year to Northern Ireland in peace process funding.

Mr Eastwood, who is standing in the upcoming European elections, on Wednesday unveiled his "anti-Brexit battle bus", which highlighted the amount of money the EU sends to Northern Ireland in peace funding and other initiatives.

The SDLP leader unveiled the bus on the Irish border near Londonderry in a bid to "debunk" the claims of Brexiteers before the referendum.

TUV leader Mr Allister, who is also standing in the EU elections, said: "Two realities bring the exaggerated claim of €500m per annum from the EU to Northern Ireland up short.

"It's all our own money in the first place (and it is) recycled from Brussels after the UK pays it in as one of its top bankrollers."

Mr Allister said the figure "does not equate to Northern Ireland's pro rata share of the UK contribution", which he calculated as £600m.

"It is as nothing compared to the UK contribution to this part of the UK, yet Mr Eastwood's primary policy is to end the British link and thereby stop the block grant," he said.

"Good luck then, Mr Eastwood, in surviving on what you think is Brussels' £500m.

"If Colum Eastwood thinks recycling a modest pot of our own money is preferable to the largesse of the UK, then he's even less grounded than I thought."

An SDLP spokesman said Mr Allister's analysis was "tainted by his Brexit fanaticism" and that his "maths don't add up".

"From 2014-2020, the EU co-funded £3.55bn of projects in Northern Ireland," the spokesman added.

"That amounts to over £500m as a base benefit. This does not include additional competitive bidding funding through Framework Project 7, its successor Horizon 2020 or benefits from the Barosso Task Force.

"Colum Eastwood will continue to debunk the Brexiteer myths in this campaign. The lies that formed the basis of the Leave campaign will be rooted out."

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