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PM assures DUP Northern Ireland peace funding to continue regardless of Brexit

By Jonathan Bell

The Prime Minister has reassured the DUP the UK Government is committed to maintaining funding for peace projects in Northern Ireland until 2027 regardless of Brexit.

It comes after the Secretary of State earlier this month linked £300million for peace and reconciliation projects to the success of Theresa May's deal with the EU and just days ahead of the crucial Parliament vote on the matter. Which saw the government suffer a crushing defeat.

Another £100m was to come from the EU.

The DUP said casting doubt on the funding should there be a no-deal Brexit was a "distasteful bluff" accusing the government of using peace as a bargaining chip.

MEP Diane Dodds told the BBC the "factual position" had been "twisted" in the heated debate coming up to the meaningful vote. She called on the secretary of state to also issue a reassurance.

Arlene Foster thanked the Prime Minister for her assurance. It followed after discussions between the two leaders.

 “This is welcome clarification from the Prime Minister that the commitment to PEACE funding until 2027 is 'unequivocal'. It lays to rest the comments made by the Secretary of State that there may be some doubt about the legal basis on which it could be delivered," the DUP leader said.

"Such comments were not only foolish, but were particularly irresponsible given the nature of the groups who are in receipt of this funding. There is nothing wrong with a robust debate on the facts, but resorting to such scaremongering is not just wrong but is also counterproductive.”

In her letter to the DUP, Theresa May said she remained "personally strongly committed" to the funding which would continue until 2020 regardless of the Brexit outcomes.

"The government has emphasised its importance at every stage," she wrote.

"In the event of no deal, both the UK and the EU have categorically committed to protect funding for current programmes through to 2020...

"I can also reassure you that whatever the outcome of Brexit the UK will remain committed to contributing financially to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland."

The DUP has a confidence and supply deal with the Tory government in order to allow it to function a minority government.

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