Jim Nicholson, Ulster Unionist MEP, has said that following the reallocation of the£18m of PEACE funding which was originally earmarked for the Maze to other projects the pressure was now on for delivery. Mr Nicholson made the comments after meeting with SEUPB Chief Executive Pat Colgan to discuss a range of issues regarding EU funding.
Speaking after the meeting Jim said:
“Originally allocating £18m of PEACE funding to the so-called Peace Centre at the Maze site caused a great deal of unnecessary distress to innocent victims of terrorism. That project never had community support and was not what PEACE funding was intended to be used for. Diverting funds to the Maze also meant that a wide range of good projects across Northern Ireland were denied funding, including for example Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Valley Park Shared Space.”
“The knock-on effect of the funding only being withdrawn from the Maze last October meant that there was a very narrow period of time in the PEACE III Programme to identify alternative projects and ensure that money was not returned to Brussels. It has been confirmed by SEUPB that alternatives have now been identified. This is however only part of the process, actual delivery of the projects is key to keeping the funding in Northern Ireland.’
“Of course this could all have been avoided if the money had not been diverted to the Maze in the first place – which was something I always opposed. Whilst I welcome the progress made by SEUPB in reallocating this EU money to alternative projects there is still a considerable amount of work to be done to ensure that the projects are successfully completed on time.”
The meeting also covered recent progress to reallocate the INTERREG funding originally allocated to the Narrow Water Bridge Project which will be utilised by the Enterprise service which operates between Belfast and Dublin and developments regarding PEACE IV.