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Peace Funding: Logjam

Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 3rd October 2016.

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Photo of Linda Dillon Linda Dillon Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 3rd October 2016

T3. Ms Dillon asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister what plans there are to engage with the Irish and British Governments and the EU Commission to overcome the funding logjam that is holding up Peace funding. (AQT 258/16-21)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

Yes, I understand that the Finance Minister mentioned this in his questions last week; the fact that, whilst we have letters of offer worth over €120 million for cross-border transformative job, environmental and health projects, some of those have become logjammed in the system. Let me be very clear: the Executive, the Finance Department, the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and INTERREG panels have all stepped up to expedite those funding applications. In fact, they have put in an awful lot of work to ensure that the money is released to all those involved with peace work and creating jobs. Respectfully, however, I suggest that their efforts need to be matched by the Irish Government, by our own Government and by the European Union Commission as well. We will, of course, support the Finance Minister as he tries to push those organisations in the correct direction.

Photo of Linda Dillon Linda Dillon Sinn Féin

In the absence of resolution, what plans do the Executive have in place to sustain projects that rely on Peace funding?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

Of course, we are not there yet. As you know, the Chancellor has indicated that anything signed off before the autumn statement will be honoured. That is a very good indicator, which has given some time, so that groups and, indeed, the SEUPB can have offers in place. For offers that are not in place after that date, I understand that the Finance Minister is continuing his negotiations with the Treasury, and we will, of course, support him in those efforts.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

I must inform Members that question 4 has been withdrawn.