28 March 2006

Sinn Fein press for peace money


A Sinn Fein delegation has pressed for a £10bn peace dividend at a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain.

MEP Bairbre de Brun said the cash should be channelled into all-Ireland strategies as well as tackling social and economic disadvantage.

She said the money should be spent over 10 years.

The delegation to the Stormont meeting included Mitchel McLaughlin and Caoimhghin O'Caolain TD.

Mr McLaughlin said: "We made the point to Mr Hain and his principle advisers, that after 10 years a peace dividend has not yet emerged, and if it were to emerge it would be a major accelerator for building confidence in a political process.

"We believe that both governments should look at ways to eradicate regional socio and economic disparities and encourage the development of all-Ireland strategies along the border corridor."

After the meeting, Mr Hain said he had highlighted several investment initiatives.

"Over the next three years alone to the end of the current budget period, the capital expenditure plans contained in the investment strategy approach £4bn.

"The investment strategy is already showing real progress on the ground with a number of the projects identified already off the drawing board."

He said spending on public services by 2007/8 would be £16bn, which was 50% higher in real terms than when Labour first came to power.

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