Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (164, 165)

Enda Kenny

Question:

244 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position of an application for £300,000 sterling for a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6942/04]

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Finian McGrath

Question:

245 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the maximum support and funding will be provided to the Conway Mill Project, Belfast (details supplied) to assist it achieve its funding target of £300,000. [6943/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 and 245 together.

My Department's reconciliation fund was established in 1982 to assist organisations involved in reconciliation work and in developing a better understanding between people in both parts of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain. Since its establishment, it has funded a wide variety of organisations working in the field of reconciliation in Northern Ireland, between North and South and between these islands.

The Department welcomes applications from organisations whose activities may qualify for consideration under the criteria governing the fund. All applications are considered by an interdepartmental advisory committee on the basis of published eligibility criteria and the committee then makes its recommendations to me. The reconciliation fund is relatively modest in scale, with some €2.5 million available for disbursement in 2003. Accordingly, the Department unfortunately cannot provide funding for the large number of worthy applications received.

In 2003, the organisation mentioned by the Deputies made an application for grant aid of £300,000 sterling to the reconciliation fund. I regret that, on account of the constraints arising from the numerous applications received and the limited resources available, it was not possible on that occasion to provide financial support to this application. A letter informing the organisation of this decision was issued in August 2003.