PEACEPLUS Launch Marks New Chapter for Investment in Peace and Prosperity
PEACEPLUS – a new €1.14billion funding programme, designed to support peace and prosperity across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland – was officially launched today in Belfast.
Consolidating the legacy of the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement and the achievements of the 23,000 projects funded through PEACE and INTERREG Programmes over the past 25 years, PEACEPLUS will deliver investment across six key themes designed to ensure the continued economic, social, and environmental development of Northern Ireland and the six border counties.
PEACEPLUS consists of a partnership between the European Union, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government of Ireland, and the Northern Ireland Executive. Senior representatives from each jurisdiction gathered in Belfast today to celebrate the launch of the Programme.
Hosted at the recently opened site of the PEACE IV shared space redevelopment project, the Newforge Sports Centre in South Belfast, the official launch event was attended by the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič; the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery, and Reform; and Dr Jayne Brady, Head of the Civil Service of Northern Ireland.
The Programme, which will be managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), includes a focus on peacebuilding activity and taking the opportunity to implement actions which will contribute positively to building the economy and increasing prosperity, as well as helping communities become more resilient and adjust to new challenges.
Speaking at the event, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič said:
“I am pleased to be in Northern Ireland to mark the launch of PEACE Plus, together with representatives of the governments of the UK and Ireland. The European Union’s support to this programme is part of our strong commitment to peace in Northern Ireland, now and in the future.
“Here in Northern Ireland, we have seen how peace, when it is not a given, becomes an overwhelming desire, a primary necessity. And how much we can achieve when we put our minds and hearts to it. With an overall contribution of 1.1 billion euro, we are – collectively – clearly demonstrating that we are putting our money where our mouth is.
“The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement has provided a sustainable basis for peace in Northern Ireland for the past 25 years. It took great political courage from all sides to make it happen. We all have a duty to protect it, and the gains it has brought about.”
Secretary of State, Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP, said:
“Twenty-five years after the signing of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, Northern Ireland has so many stories to tell of how its communities have delivered on the Agreement’s promises around peace and reconciliation.
“Those efforts continue today, and I’m so pleased to attend the launch of PEACEPLUS alongside colleagues from the Irish Government, European Commission and Northern Ireland Civil Service.
“The UK Government is pleased to support the Special EU Programme Body’s work in this area, providing over £730 million in funding. The government is committed to helping Northern Ireland to reach its full potential as a prosperous and stable part of the United Kingdom.”
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:
“It’s a real pleasure to be here in Belfast to formally launch the PEACEPLUS programme. With record funding of €1.1 billion, PEACEPLUS is an unprecedented investment by the EU, the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland in reconciliation and cross-border cooperation, helping to build peace and promote prosperity on the island.
“Although we are making this announcement against the stark backdrop of suspended power-sharing Institutions, today is a welcome reminder of just what is possible, and how we can make real progress. When Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK and the EU work together, it yields a significant dividend for Northern Ireland and the border region.”
Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive of the SEUPB commented:
“Alongside officially launching PEACEPLUS, the event today offered the opportunity to reflect on the transformative impact that EU funding has had on embedding peacebuilding efforts and driving prosperity in communities across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland.”
“PEACEPLUS will build upon that impact, standing on the shoulders of the outstanding legacy of all those who took part in PEACE and INTERREG programmes over the past 25 years.”
Dr Jayne Brady, Head of the Civil Service of Northern Ireland, said:
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to attend the launch of the PEACEPLUS Programme today. This Programme represents a significant commitment in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland.
“PEACEPLUS will build on the significant achievements of previous programmes and provide the opportunity for our communities to foster understanding, develop relationships and contribute to the building of our shared society.”
One of six cross-border bodies set up under the Good Friday Agreement, the SEUPB has managed the positive impact of €3.39billion of cross-border funding through the PEACE and INTERREG Programmes for over 23,000 projects since 1999.