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30 March 2006 Edition

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Peace dividend: £10 Billion sought

Governments pushed to invest in peace

A high level Sinn Féin delegation met British Secretary of State Peter Hain and his officials last Tuesday at Stormont Castle to press for a major £10 billion, 10-year Peace Dividend.

The Sinn Féin team, which included Bairbre de Brún MEP, Party General Secretary, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, and Dara O'Hagan pressed the case for a substantial investment in the peace process by the British government. The party intends to make the same case to the Irish government.

Bairbre de Brún pointed out that both governments had already acknowledged the validity of arguments about the need to invest in conflict resolution and a broad consensus existed between the parties on what is required.

"There is a clear responsibility to build the peace and tackle the many causes and effects of the conflict. Sinn Féin believes that any incoming local Executive should have a major Peace Dividend at its disposal so that local Ministers can deliver an agreed programme that puts stability and growth at the top of the agenda", de Brún said.

"We indicated that there is significant scope for transferring 'security' expenditure into a major strategy that can underpin the economic and infrastructural transformation of our society. This would be a clear indication by the British government of its recognition of the need for investment in peace. We also pointed out the fact that in the event of a fully functioning Executive and institutions across the range of functions, the expenditure level at the NIO would also come into question.

"It is the Sinn Féin belief that in order to build confidence in the political process in society as a whole, there needs to be recognisable benefits on the ground. We believe that the two governments are capable of and should deliver on a £10 billion, 10-year Peace Building Strategy. This should be targeted at eradicating the regional socio and economic disparities that exist and to support the development of all-Ireland strategies and synergies, particularly along the border corridor. The potential of language based regeneration should not be ignored.

"This morning's meeting was both important and positive. We are committed to further work on the issues raised."

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