11 January 2019
Responding to remarks by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley which appeared to tie the UK government’s commitment to peace funding after 2020 to the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, DUP MEP Diane Dodds said:
Member of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Substitute member of the EU Fisheries Committee
“Ahead of Tuesday’s crucial vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, it is disgraceful and disingenuous that the Secretary of State should use the issue of peace funding as a bargaining chip aimed at securing more votes for the flawed deal.
The EU has already allocated £109m of funding for a PEACE Plus Programme between 2021-2027 within its draft multi-annual financial framework - outside of the Article 50 process. Brussels also made clear in its no-deal Contingency Action Plan in December that the EU would ensure that “current programmes between the border counties of Ireland and Northern Ireland continue in all scenarios.”
For Mrs Bradley to imply that the UK government could choose not to demonstrate similar good faith if a deal is not ultimately reached is a distasteful bluff.
It is an appalling snub of the vital needs of communities impacted by years of violence and division in Northern Ireland, including innocent victims of terrorism. This intervention reflects her position as a bystander in the affairs of our Province to date.
The Prime Minister has already discarded Paragraph 50 of the December Joint Report which would have given Stormont a legally-binding veto over new regulatory barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. That Report also included a mutual pledge to exploring the potential for future peace support favourably. Sadly, we are now led to question whether this commitment is also in jeopardy.
The DUP believes it is wrong that the interests of individuals, projects and communities relying on peace funding should be exploited for short-term advantage at Westminster.
The Prime Minister must move to clarify the Government position and to reiterate all-weather commitments to peace funding in Northern Ireland in all eventualities.”