21 October 2005

Report Says Protestants Not Missing Out

Derry Journal

Friday 21st October 2005

An Independent report into the allocation of an EU peace grants in the North has discredited DUP claims that Protestant community groups are more likely to be refused money than Catholic groups. The DUP demanded a review of the uptake of Peace II funding - designed to boost local community projects and infrastructure - after insisting groups in Protestant areas were being disenfranchised.

Now an independent report compiled by PriceWaterHouseCoopers on behalf of the Special European Programmes Body (SEUPB) - obtained by the 'Journal' - appears to show this is not the case. The report, published in January 2005, has found that funding applications from Protestant groups were more likely to be approved that those from groups in predominately Catholic areas in the last round of Peace II handouts. Large and small grants given to Protestant groups amounted to £2,930, 490 - more than half a million pounds more than what Catholic community groups received.

The report also found Catholic projects, which received £236,7002, were cross community while Protestant projects tended to be single identity. It concluded that 57 per cent of the value of all grants went to beneficiaries located in Protestant areas.

Despite the report, the DUP continues to claim that Protestant groups are missing out on Peace II money which has just been extended. The party also refuses to recognise that areas in Northern Ireland which suffer community infrastructure deficit are more likely to be home to the North's Catholics population. One representative linked to the Peace II Programme said yesterday: "This is the report the DUP did not want people to see. "They demanded a review after insisting Protestant groups were getting less EU money than Catholic projects. "But the independent report proves this is not the case. The distribution of EU funding is far from the cold house for Protestants that the DUP would have people believe." The DUP's Foyle MLA, Willie Hay yesterday challenged the report which, he said, does not mirror the findings of the EU's own investigation into the issue.

He said there was no doubt that Protestant areas in Northern Ireland were losing out. "I accept Protestant groups in this city have not done too badly out of Peace II because their community leaders have a proactive working relationship with the local strategy partnership which distributes Peace II funding.

"But that is not reflected across the whole of Northern Ireland. The problem is that some Protestant community groups have found it difficult to apply for the money in the first place. "They have found it difficult to draw the money and manage it because they do not have the same expertise as those in the nationalist community. "I will challenge this report until I see its terms of reference and explore how it arrived at its conclusions."

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