At this time of great national uncertainty the prospect of BREXIT and especially a No Deal BREXIT has caused near panic in certain quarters. It is often hard to discern political spin and point scoring from genuine practical problems however it is safe to say that no other area of the UK will be as effected by BREXIT as Northern Ireland.
While agriculture and the small business sector have been most vocal it is the community and voluntary sector which stands to lose out most. Our Third Sector has become reliant on European funding most notably the PEACE Programmes which have been a feature of the funding landscape for over two decades.
Great uncertainty has prevailed as many projects had feared the worst. Therefore it is a pleasure to bring at least a small piece of good news.
Around £300 Million of funding will be committed to projects to support peace in Northern Ireland, the UK Government has announced.
The UK Government has committed to contributing millions of pounds to PEACE Plus, the programme that will succeed the current PEACE scheme, until 2027, as part of its commitment to uphold the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland after Brexit.
PEACE has helped promote economic and social progress in Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland since 1995. The current programme – run with funding from the UK, Ireland and EU – will end in 2020.
This new funding will enable work to continue to build on the almost £1.8 billion (€2 billion) of investment in projects in both Northern Ireland and Ireland, including landmark projects such as the £14.5m PEACE bridge in Derry-Londonderry, which has linked communities across the River Foyle.
One organisation that has shown the benefit is Youth Action NI in Belfast, an organisation that used PEACE funding to help bring together young people from different communities in Northern Ireland. It established the ‘Youth Network for Peace’ – a regional project involving 10,000 young people in a range of participative social action projects on a cross-community and cross-border basis.