Written Answers. - Border Counties Funding.

James Leonard

Question:

42 Mr. Leonard asked the Minister for Finance if he will request Ministers who have responsibilities for the administration of operational programmes to have them reviewed in view of the peace process rather than wait until 1997. [15905/95]

James Leonard

Question:

44 Mr. Leonard asked the Minister for Finance the changes, if any, there are in Government policy regarding funding for Border counties in view of the Taoiseach's statement to the North West Region Cross Border Group on 27 October 1995, in Letterkenny, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16630/95]

Rory O'Hanlon

Question:

56 Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the concern of the people in the Border counties at the lack of additionality in the allocation of funding specially designated for Border areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17904/95]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42, 44 and 56 together.

In addition to expenditure under the Community Support Framework CSF, operational programmes and from the Community Initiatives, the Border region, comprising the six counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo, is benefiting specifically from the Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border counties and the Ireland-Northern Ireland INTERREG Programme 1994-99.

Under the peace programme a total of 300 MECU, approximately £240 million, of EU funds is being provided over the period 1995-97. At least 20 per cent of these funds, amounting to approximately £48 million, is being made available for the six Border counties.

Under INTERREG II a total of 156 MECU of EU funds has been allocated to the Border counties and Northern Ireland for cross-Border projects in infrastructure, environmental protection, natural resources, human resources and economic development. Of this amount 89.5 MECU, significantly over half of the EU funding approved, has been made available for the six Border counties, and, as in the case of the peace programme, matching funding will come from central Government, local authorities, the private sector and community groups depending on the nature of the project being funded.

Expenditure under the peace programme and INTERREG II will be additional to spending in the Border counties under the 1994-99 CSF operational programmes for Ireland and other Community Initiatives. In order to verify this additionality the Department of Finance has requested Government Departments to compile details of forecast expenditure under each operational programme and Community Initiatives for each of the eight regions. These forecasts, which are now being finalised, will provide the baseline reference data for establishing additionality of expenditure under INTERREG II and the peace programme over the period of these programmes. Procedures are being put in place to ensure that additionality of funding under INTERREG II and the peace programme will be verifiable and transparent.
In the context of the peace programme the Department of Finance has asked Departments responsible for CSF operational programmes to examine the possibilities for refocusing these programmes in order to accommodate the new demands and challenges which have arisen following the cessation of violence. While a major recasting of operational programmes should not prove necessary. Departments are expected to examine possibilities such as advancing the timing of projects located within the Border region and increased opportunities for cross-Border co-operation.
An INTERREG office was established in Monaghan last month and an INTERREG development officer has been appointed with the specific remit of assisting with the promotion of this programme on the ground both in the Border counties and Northern Ireland. He will also inform interested groups and individuals on other sources of EU funding for their particular projects.
Some of the questions imply that the Government is forgoing or will forgo EU Structural Funds in order to keep overall Government spending under control. This is not Government policy. The Government is committed to keeping public expenditure within the parameters set out in our policy document, A Government of Renewal. However these parameters are consistent with maximising the drawdown of EU funds under the CSF and Community Initiatives. The actual amount of funds drawn down in any year is of course dependent on the progress being made on project start-up and completion across operational programmes and Community Initiatives.