Friday, July 29, 2005

President of the European Parliament Welcomes IRA Statement

Josep Borrell, President of the European Parliament, welcomed the "important step forward in the long-lasting peace process in Northern Ireland." Following the statement issued by the IRA announcing their decision to end its armed campaign, the European Parliament President said "it is a capital step in fulfilling the Good Friday Agreement and I am pleased that IRA finally decided to end its armed campaign. At the time where the countries of the European Union join their efforts to fight together terrorism which strikes their own land, it is a capital decision. No sustainable solution to conflicts can be found with the use of violence."


Lord Laird Accuses Cross-Border Bodies of Religious Bias

The Newsletter reports that Lord Laird has referred the SEUPB to the Equality Commission. Lord Laird accused the agency to be bias against Protestants. "Since their creation in 1999, the cross-border bodies have carried out most of their work in a one-sided fashion" claimed Laird. Asking questions about the denomination of staff members of the SEUPB to the Government, Lord Laird learned that on the 32 staff members, six were Protestants. "This sort of employment imbalance is not going to instil confidence in the unionist community" remarked Lord Laird. In a previous occasion, the Ulster Unionist politician asked about the denomination of the agency "InterTradeIreland" and learned that "at 1 June 2005, InterTradeIreland employed 38 permanent staff. The religious make-up of these staff is 81.5 per cent. Catholic and 18.5 per cent Protestant."


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Background on Contreversies over EU PEACE Fundings

DUP MEP Jim Allister recently attacked the cross-border agency ADM/CPA in charge of the allocation of the measures 5.3 and 5.4 of the PEACE II extension. Asking for the denominations of staff members working within this agency Jim Allister was outraged to discover that ADM/CPA was under the ROI law and therefore did not require to comply with the Northern Irish Freedom and Information Act: "two important issues emerge" said Mr Allister: "first, this supposed cross-border consortium is in effect a Republic of Ireland company only with staff employed by its Republic of Ireland parent company. Second, though masquerading as a cross-border entity, this ROI company has exclusive control of the distribution of millions of euros of EU funding under Measures 5.3 and 5.4, which exist for the promotion of developing cross border understanding and economic advancement, including training. Thus the supposed cross-border consortium is in effect a mere fiction, designed to lend cover and credibility to cross-border Measures, when in truth it is controlled by a ROI company. Little wonder unionism continues to lack confidence in much of the administration of the PEACE funding." However, Pat Colgan, Chief Executive, SEUPB recently said “since assuming management of the PEACE Programme in 1999 SEUPB has consistently promoted equal access to the Programme from all communities. (A recent) research contains a number of positive findings, indicating the importance of the Programme to both the Protestant and Catholic communities. Overall it would appear that the PEACE II Programme has received greater recognition and participation from the Protestant community, when compared with PEACE I." Reacting to Jim Allister's statement, SF MEP Bairbre de Brun said that Mr Allister "should not make mischief over EU PEACE funding" (see next post).


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bairbre de Brun attacks Jim Allister over PEACE Funding Contreversies

A Press release from SF reports that: "Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has said that Jim Allister MEP should not make mischief over EU PEACE funding. Ms de Brún made her comments after it emerged that Mr Allister had addressed a letter to 26 Local Strategy Partnerships (LSPs) across the North, requesting the disclosure of information relating to the religious breakdown of staff members although they employ too few staff to be required to do so. Mr Allister has also launched an attack on the cross-border consortium ADM/CPA (Area Development Management/Combat Poverty Agency). Speaking today Ms de Brún said: "In recent times Jim Allister has made a number of unfounded allegations about the distribution of funding under the EU PEACE programme and has clearly been trawling for information with the aim of making further mischief. We are aware that he has written to all the LSPs in the North asking for a breakdown in the religious make-up of their workforce even though he knows that they employ so few people that they are not required to document, much less to divulge such information. In at least one case the response would have meant telling the DUP the religious persuasion of their one employee. Furthermore the funding measure referred to in Mr Allister's letter was not one for which LSPs are even responsible."