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International fund seeks £45 million to 'deliver sustainable peace'

There are 99 peace walls in Belfast alone
John Monaghan

AN INTERNATIONAL fund set up to assist the north's re-development has said it is seeking up to £45 million from the two governments to "deliver sustainable peace."

In its strategy for 2016 to 2020, The International Fund for Ireland (IFI), which has distributed more than £700 million to 5,800 projects across the island, said it requires between £29 million and £45 million to cover its work in the next five years.

Its report noted: "We recognise that it is difficult for the donor governments to continue to support programmes on the island of Ireland at a time of budgetary austerity.... sustainable peace in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland has not been achieved, nor will it be achieved by short term strategic planning."

The IFI has said future investment will aim to continue to support shared education, criticising the current segregated system, and tackle the number of peace walls, which have increased since the Good Friday Agreement.

It claims that the Executive's plan to remove all peace walls - 109 in total - by 2023 is a "very ambitious target."

The IFI states: "Community appetite for interface barrier removal continues to gather pace, yet statutory authorities face an increasing challenge to secure the necessary funding for the required economic and social regeneration interventions that make physical change sustainable."

According to the group, there are three sectarian attacks a day in Northern Ireland, with nine attacks on police officers daily for the past two and a half years.

Its report concludes: "The peace process is at a critical point...the chairman and the board of IFI strongly believe this is not the right time to step away, but rather ensure that the successes of previous strategies are embedded in sustained peace."

Founded in 1986, the IFI has also received contributions from the EU, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

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