€21m EU boost for peace projects

Peace-building and reconciliation in the North received an €21m boost today.

The European Union cash will support around 140 jobs, help improve community relations and deal with three decades of conflict.

Projects in the North and the border counties of Ireland will benefit.

Community Relations Council (CRC) chairman Tony McCusker said: “We are pleased to make this announcement today as we look forward to Community Relations Week next week, which will showcase the hugely important work that goes on across Northern Ireland throughout the year to deal with the legacy of the conflict and build a shared and better future.”

Community Relations Week will see more than 140 events take place across the North, including events organised by groups and projects benefiting from the new EU money.

Jim Dennison, director of CRC’s European Programme, said applications to the Peace III programme far exceeded the consortium’s capacity to fund them but 45 projects would benefit from the latest tranche of cash.

“This proves that there is a very genuine and sustained commitment to improving community life and relations in Northern Ireland. This is particularly noteworthy given recent attempts to destabilise the political process,” he added.

Projects receiving the funding feature a wide range of peace-building and reconciliation initiatives.

These include the Crosslinks project, which is co-ordinated by the Belfast-based Youth Initiatives organisation; the Transcending Trauma project, which is run by Armagh-based Restorative Action Following the Troubles (Raft); and Whatever You Say, Say Something, which is co-ordinated by Healing Through Remembering.

Mr Dennison said: “The grant aid awarded to groups will support some 140 jobs, which is welcome at a time of economic downturn.

“With a further €29m still to commit, we are able to fund a good many more posts in the coming years.

“This investment from the European Union will make a very valuable contribution to community life and relations here.”

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