Northern Ireland news

£400 million peace dividend for Northern Ireland

The Peace Bridge in Derry. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

A European windfall of around £400 million may be the last under the special Peace programme put in place after the Good Friday Agreement to help rebuild communities in Northern Ireland.

Around £75m has been earmarked to improve the lives of children and young people.

The latest round of funding, which will run for the next seven years, also includes £13m to help victims and survivors deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

Around £40m is to be spent on eight new projects in interface areas to help bring divided communities together, following the example set by the Peace Bridge in Derry and the Skainos Centre in east Belfast.

It is also aiming to spend £26m in 350 schools to physically bring students together to learn aspects of the curriculum.

Elsewhere, £46m is being set aside for health and social care including helping 4,000 people with disabilities who are socially isolated, £35m for sustainable transport projects and £53m for research and innovation.

Seventeen local peace and reconciliation schemes overseen by councils are also being targeted.

The money is coming from the EU's Peace IV and Interreg programmes. It is hoped it can be used to support youths who fall out of education and training programmes and are at risk of anti-social behaviour or lives of crime and violence.

Finance minister Mervyn Storey said: "The programmes will leave a lasting legacy with a strong focus on our young people."

Gina McIntyre, of the Special EU Programmes Body which oversees the funding programmes, said: "A whole new generation of young people have grown up since the first Peace Programme was created. As such, Peace IV will have a strong youth focus with approximately €100 million worth of funding being allocated to children through shared education and youth development initiatives."

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