DUP MEP Diane Dodds says her party acknowledges the enormous contribution European Union peace money has made to local communities across Northern Ireland and has vowed that her party will “ensure that this money will continue to flow as negotiations get underway.”
She made the comments after Londonderry-based MEP Martina Anderson accused Mrs Dodds and UUP MEP Jim Nicholson of voting against a Sinn Féin amendment to a European parliamentary motion calling on the European Commission to continue supporting the peace funding for Northern Ireland and border counties.
To give a sense of the scale of the EU peace funding this area benefits from: around 225 million euros in peace money was pumped into Northern Ireland under PEACE III (2007 to 2013) and 229million euros was due to keep flowing here under PEACE IV (2014 to 2020).
Mrs Dodds said: “Sinn Féin MEPs have even gone as far as questioning peace in Northern Ireland. What they fail to realise is that fear tactics did not work in the lead up to the vote and they will not work now.
“Let me be clear. Peace in our Province does not depend on any deal thrashed out in the corridors of Brussels. It is sustained by the will of the people supported by political parties, and underpinned by the sacrifice of brave men and women who stood up to terrorism in the past. This will not change whether the UK is inside or outside the EU.
“We, of course acknowledge that successive PEACE Programmes have contributed enormously to progress in local communities, and we in the DUP will ensure that this money will continue to flow as negotiations get underway,” said Mrs Dodds.
She said the DUP will fight in order to make sure 308 million euros from the European Regional Development Fund; 183 million from the European Social Fund Programme; 240 million from the INTERREG VA fund; 24 million euros from the European Fisheries and Maritime Fund; 227 million from the Rural Development Programme (CAP Pillar 2); and 2,299 million from CAP Pillar 1: over three billion euros worth of EU funding promised to Northern Ireland in total between 2014 and 2020, will continue or be replaced by London.
“In addition, we will also fight hard for further sustainable funding either at European, national or regional levels for those groups who work so hard to build community relations,” she said.
But Ms Anderson has accused the DUP of ‘recklessness’.
“Brexit will damage the North of Ireland more than it will damage anywhere else, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are living in cloud—cuckoo-land.
“We have farmers, SMEs, women’s groups, the community and voluntary sector, universities, foreign direct investment, construction workers and 23,000 cross-border workers and students who cross the border every day. Brexit will turn the North into an economic basket case: 1.2 billion worth of trade every week across Ireland.
“The Democratic Unionist Party’s Leave campaign was reckless and it was wrong, and the political football was set up in order to get stronger links with Britain, harder borders and damage the all-Ireland economy. I say to you: the people of the North of Ireland voted to remain, and they want that accepted and to be respected,” she said.