Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

McNulty seeks approvals for EU funding for projects

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty says he has written to government Ministers north and south to press for urgent approvals of some key north-south projects, which are funded under the INTERREG VA programme.

He says his constituency area of Newry and Armagh, more than any other, knows the real benefits being part of the European Union has brought in terms of EU funding.

“For many years millions of euro have been drawn down by local authorities through the various Peace, Rural and Interreg Programmes which have supported a wide range of community and sporting groups. In addition to this the funds have also delivered significant investment in local businesses, infrastructure for our tourism / hospitality sector as well as key environmental sustainability projects,” he said.

Pointing out that many such projects would not have happened without the various EU funding streams, he added that there are still many planned for this region.

“At present the East Border Region group, which is a partnership of local authorities from the border counties, is bidding for projects with a total value of €43.3million and it is imperative that our governments, north and south don’t delay in giving the necessary approvals for the projects to move ahead,” Mr McNulty revealed.

“Since the Brexit result was declared on Friday 24th June there has been significant uncertainty about the future of EU funding.  However last month the UK’s Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed that the UK government will underwrite any projects which are signed up before his Autumn Statement.  This is welcome news, however it challenges the administrations in Belfast and Dublin to get their houses in order and ensure all the necessary approvals are in place before then.

“I have written to the Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard, Agriculture and Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen and Economy Minister Simon Hamilton at Stormont as well as their counterparts Mary Mitchell O’Connor (Enterprise), Simon Coveney (Community and Local Government), Shane Ross (Transport, Tourism and Sport) as well as Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe to press for their urgent approvals for the different projects which their Departments are involved in,” he added.

“€43.4million is a lot of money. These projects can deliver real benefits for this region and they cannot be held up by government red tape. These need to be approved at ministerial level and signed up prior to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement if they are to go ahead.  We cannot allow these projects or this funding to be lost to this region.”