Written Answers. - Northern Ireland Peace Process.

Michael Ring

Question:

31 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the discussions, if any, he has had with the President of the European Commission on his recent promise to pledge extra funds for economic aid for Northern Ireland as part of the peace process. [8240/98]

I assume that the funding referred to by the Deputy relates to the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border counties. This programme was established for a five year period from 1995 to 1999. EU funding of 300 million ecu was provided for the first three years with provision for a review and refocusing of the programme for the final two year phase.

During a visit to Belfast on 2-3 March President Santer formally launched the second phase of the programme and announced EU funding of 100 million ecu for 1998. The question of discussions with President Santer prior to his visit had not arisen as the review and refocusing of the programme had already been successfully concluded, and funding for 1998 had been approved.
I did, however, meet President Santer during his visit to Belfast and I availed of the opportunity to express our appreciation for the support provided by the EU for the peace process through the very successful Programme for Peace and Reconciliation.