DUP cross-border boycott could jeopardise more than €1 billion of PEACE funding
THE DUP has been accused of jeopardising more than €1 billion of PEACE funding through its boycott of the cross-border institutions.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson last week said his party would boycott most north-south ministerial meetings and warned that it could not be "business as usual".
At yesterday's Executive Office scrutiny committee meeting, concerns were raised about the impact of the boycott on the so-called PEACE Plus funding.
The €1.1 billion (£0.94 billion) fund is due to come on stream next year and, like its predecessors, is designed to support peace and prosperity across the north and the border counties.
Supported by the EU, the Irish government and the Stormont executive, the funds are co-ordinated through the North-South Ministerial Council before being signed off by the European Commission.
But the Executive Office Committee heard concerns that the DUP's failure to engage with the cross-border body could put the funds in jeopardy.
Committee chair Colin McGrath said the DUP's actions were prompted by "poll results that have spooked their leadership".
"What they’ve done is an act of utter selfishness and now we’re seeing the outworking of it," he said.
"Jeffrey Donaldson is happy to risk more than €1 billion of PEACE funding that would see investment in hard to reach communities in a totally misguided effort to shore up his party’s fortunes – it’s a disgrace and shouldn’t be allowed to happen."
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said the money was "waiting to be signed off by the executive and the North-South Ministerial Council".
“Not only are the DUP blocking businesses and manufacturers from creating jobs and opportunities from the protocol, they could now cost local communities €1 billion of vital funding," he said.
“Jeffrey Donaldson and his party championed a hard Brexit along with the Tories regardless of its consequences for jobs, for workers, business and local communities."
The West Belfast MLA called "urgent clarity" on the potential impact of the DUP boycott on funding.
The DUP did not comment.