Howlin welcomes adoption of PEACE Programme Almost €270 million for EU funded cross-border programme

Issued 30 November 2015

The Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, today (30 November 2015) welcomed the adoption of the new PEACE Programme for Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland.  The Programme was formally adopted by the European Commission in Brussels earlier today.  

Speaking after the adoption, the Minister said:

“Successive PEACE programmes have made an enormous contribution to developing the process of peace building and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland since the first Programme was launched in 1995.  Thousands of projects have been supported from 1995 to the present, with approximately €2 billion invested in the region.”

In 2013, on the initiative of the Irish Government, the European Council decided to provide €150 million of EU funding for a fourth iteration of the Programme.  The UK Government subsequently decided to allocate €50 million to the Programme from its overall European Territorial Cooperation allocation.  The total value of the programme, including Irish and UK match funding, will be €269 million in current prices.  

The Minister said:

“The European Union has always been a strong supporter of the Peace process in Northern Ireland, and the PEACE and INTERREG Programmes provide real evidence of that support.  Together they will see investment of more than half a billion Euro in the region over the period 2014-2020.”

The new PEACE Programme will focus on four key priority areas:

•             shared education; 

•             children and young people;

•             shared spaces and services; and

•             building positive relations at a local level.

The European Union Programme for Peace and Reconciliation is a unique Structural Funds programme that comes under the overall European Territorial Cooperation heading of the European Regional Development Fund.  The Programme is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, a cross-border body established under the Good Friday Agreement.

The Minister said:

“Projects supported under the PEACE Programme have helped promote social and economic stability through the promotion of community cohesion and the development of a shared society.  A wide-range of projects have been supported, from large-scale capital-build and infrastructure projects to small scale, locally focused, grass roots projects.  The participative, bottom-up approach adopted by the PEACE Programme has proved to be particularly effective in allocating funding at a grass-roots level where it is most needed.”

A highlight of the 2007-2013 PEACE Programme was the PEACE Bridge in Derry, which was opened by the then EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn in 2011.  

The Minister said:

“This announcement brings to a close a campaign to put in place a new PEACE Programme which commenced in 2011 when I first discussed the issue with UK colleagues.  In 2012 I travelled to Brussels to meet Johannes Hahn to seek his support for a new programme. And I have also discussed it with his successor, Corina Cretu, on a number of occasions since her appointment last year.

I have also had an opportunity to discuss it with successive Finance Ministers in Northern Ireland, including Sammy Wilson, Simon Hamilton, and Arlene Foster.  I am looking forward to meeting Minister Foster again next week at the North South Ministerial Council in Armagh when we will have an opportunity to look forward to the implementation of the PEACE and INTERREG Programmes.”