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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 18:12 GMT
200m euros of funding is proposed
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200 million euros of peace funding has been proposed for 2007 to 2013
The government has proposed that 200 million euros (134m) should be allocated to European peace funding in Northern Ireland between 2007 and 2013.

The proposal for PEACE III funding has been welcomed by Sinn Fein and the UUP.

Ministers will meet in Brussels to decide whether or not to ratify the third tranche of peace money later this month.

The EU has allocated almost one billion euros to community groups under two peace and reconciliation schemes.

However, the second tranche of funds, PEACE II, is due to run out next year.

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre De Brun said it is now imperative that European ministers ratify the proposal when they meet later this month.

"Work still remains to be done to ensure a further round of peace funding is secured," Ms De Brun said.

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said it was "a welcome proposal but we must await the outcome of budget negotiations at the European Council summit in Brussels next week".

He also said it was "time for unionist community groups to start applying for funding" and "get their fair share of what they are entitled to".

However, Jim Dougal, the former head of the European Commission office in Belfast and London, said the funding was a smaller amount than was originally mooted.

He said it was an indication that "Europe has other priorities".

Meanwhile, a report commissioned by the EU on the PEACE II scheme has said it is "making a positive difference" in Northern Ireland.

The programme has supported activity in areas affected by the conflict, including projects that develop activities for old and vulnerable people, the disabled, victims of the conflict and domestic violence and the young unemployed, the report said.

However, it said "recent problems in the NI peace process have brought into sharp focus the ongoing challenges faced by those involved in building lasting peace and reconciliation".

Those problems emphasised the "long term nature of the solution", it added.




SEE ALSO:
EU peace funding 'could be lost'
01 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland
Dublin pledges peace fund support
22 Jul 05 |  Northern Ireland
NI receives peace funding boost
03 Jun 05 |  Northern Ireland


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