Taoiseach and EU Commissioner announce €1bn peace funding for Northern Ireland

Leo Varadkar was joined by European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic (Liam McBurney/PA)
Leo Varadkar was joined by European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic (Liam McBurney/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has joined EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic in Belfast to announce €1 billion of EU funding for Northern Ireland.

Mr Varadkar and European Commission Vice-President Sefcovic will be joined at the announcement in Belfast by a representative of the British government, the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Dr Jayne Brady, and the Republic's Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe.

The new funding plan will see €1.14 billion received through PEACEPLUS, a new EU programme aiming to build reconciliation and greater prosperity across Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic.

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PEACEPLUS will deliver investment across six key themes designed to ensure the continued economic, social and environmental development of Northern Ireland.

European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic
European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic was joining the Taoiseach for the announcement (Niall Carson/PA)

During his visit, Mr Varadkar will also have a bilateral meeting with the British government representative to discuss the importance the Dublin government attaches to the restoration of the powersharing institutions and to the British/Irish partnership, as well as the Dublin government’s concerns relating to the British government’s Legacy Bill.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill includes a form of limited immunity for some perpetrators of crimes committed during the conflict and would also prevent future civil cases and inquests into Troubles offences.

Mr Varadkar has previously said the Dublin government would “give consideration” to taking an interstate case against the UK at the international court of the Council of Europe if the Bill became law.

The Taoiseach will also engage with Northern Ireland business during the visit.

Development and management of EU North/South programmes is the responsibility of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), a North/South Implementation Body established under the Good Friday Agreement.

The SEUPB is headquartered in Belfast, with smaller offices in Omagh and Monaghan, and is jointly sponsored by the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform in Ireland and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland.