Minister Howlin to attend conference on PEACE Programme in Brussels
The Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform Brendan Howlin TD will be attending a conference on the EU funded PEACE Programme inBrusselson Thursday, 31 January 2013. The conference is being hosted by Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn and will also be attended by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
The conference – Bringing Divided Communities Together – will highlight one of the European Union interventions in peace-building, namely the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. The centrepiece of the conference will be a number of innovative project testimonies giving insight into the work accomplished and the impact that this work continues to have on people’s lives.
These projects are a testament to the commitment of the people of Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland to nurture and strengthen peace, to leave conflict behind and to build an inclusive and respectful society for all.
The Minister said that the PEACE programme has made an enormous contribution to developing the peace process inNorthern Irelandand the border region ofIreland. Thousands of projects have been supported since the first programme in 1995, with approximately €2 billion invested in these areas.
The aim of the programme is to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society by reconciling communities and contributing to a shared society.
The Minister noted the contribution that the European Union had made over six decades to peace and reconciliation in Europe and to the advancement of democracy and human rights, culminating in it being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year.
The challenge for this generation in Europe is to make that peace permanent.
The Minister said that the Irish Government strongly supports the establishment of a new PEACE Programme.
I believe we should have a new programme because I believe in the values of the programme and the contribution it has made to supporting reconciliation, to the creation of a shared society, and to addressing the legacy of the troubles. Significant challenges remain, however, and addressing them is important for the longer term viability of the peace process.
The Minster said it was fitting that the conference should take place at the commencement ofIreland’s Presidency of the European Union Council of Ministers.
Membership of the European Union has played an immense role in Ireland’s social, economic and political development in the intervening four decades. More recently, the European Union has been a key partner in Ireland’s programme of recovery. This Presidency will give Ireland an opportunity to demonstrate that we are a constructive and committed Member State that belongs at the very heart of the European decision-making process.