Peace II Money: Distribution

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance and Personnel – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:30 pm on 23rd April 2001.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 3:30 pm, 23rd April 2001

2. asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel if it is his intention to ring-fence Peace II money to ensure equitable distribution.

(AQO 1301/00)

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

The funding to be allocated under the Peace II programme has been agreed by the Executive, and the respective financial allocations for each priority and measure are specified in the operational programme which was formally agreed with the European Commission on 22 March.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I am not sure what question the Minister was answering, but he did not address the issue of ring-fencing the Peace II money. Clearly, that was a problem with Peace I. Where money was ring-fenced, it was more equitably distributed.

Is it the Minister’s intention to ensure that Peace II is ring-fenced so that the Unionist community can get a piece of the cake and not just the crumbs that it received last time?

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I did address the issue in the question. I made it quite clear that the funding is available and will be allocated on the basis of the criteria that are set down in the operational programme and will be further defined in the programme complement. The community support framework provides a set of horizontal principles that will be fully adhered to. Monitoring arrangements are in place for the next Peace programme, and I believe that they are much stronger and more effective than in the last Peace programme.

I also believe that the Member’s latter point acknowledges that, notwithstanding many of the perceptions that have existed about this, progress has been made on this issue in ensuring that there has been a better spread of applications coming forward, and in turn there may be a healthier balance of allocations. Equality and balance are two of the key issues in the horizontal principles, and when we fully apply those measures in that way, people throughout the community will be satisfied with the outcome.

Photo of Derek Hussey Derek Hussey UUP

Will the Minister confirm that the £6·67 million ring-fenced for victims is to be allocated specifically to the victims of terrorism? What sum has been ring-fenced to support ex-prisoners? Perhaps it would be better if such funding were allocated to ex-prisoners via non-ex-prisoner-type organisations, which would better assist the process of rehabilitation.

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

The Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister will manage the money in relation to victims. The junior Ministers have already spoken to the House about those plans. We have agreed the operational programmes. The programme complements have to be agreed, and that will include details of the precise measures and criteria. That is still to be determined.

The emphasis is that the funding will be for people who have suffered injury, bereavement or direct suffering as a result of violence in our community. Ex-prisoners’ groups and interests are eligible for consideration under a number of measures in the Peace II programme.