Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Brendan Smith TD has called on Minister Charlie Flanagan to ensure that both the Irish and British Governments provide adequate funding for community groups involved with reconciliation work in Northern Ireland.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD has been contacted by a number of groups concerned about the impact that funding shortfalls will have on their projects. He added that in the context of the current all-party talks there is an onus on the British Government in particular to clearly commit to funding such important projects particularly in disadvantaged communities.
Deputy Smith commented, “The resumption of talks between the Northern Ireland Executive parties and the British and Irish Governments is a welcome step forward following the breakdown of negotiations last December. It is essential that progress is made without further delay on the issues that form part of the Haass Talks, namely parades, flags, emblems and contending with the past. However, I am concerned about the tight deadline, given the British General Election, which is due to be held in the first half of next year.
“Minister Flanagan has conceded that ‘a good deal of work remains to be done’ and I would urge all the parties to work constructively towards a successful conclusion of the talks before the end of this year.
“To build on the progress achieved in Northern Ireland it is imperative that all of the elements of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement are fully implemented, especially in the area of community reconciliation. There needs to be substantial progress at an early date on the re-establishment of the Civic Forum, the convening of the North-South Consultative Forum, the proposed Bill of Rights, and the Irish Language Act.
“The Government has a responsibility to ensure that progress is made and that the community groups involved in the reconciliation process are given adequate funding and support to continue with their work. There must be confidence in politics in every community throughout Northern Ireland and civic society has an important role to play in the ongoing work of reconciliation”, concluded Deputy Smith.