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Peace Plus Programme

Volume 687: debated on Wednesday 20 January 2021

What assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the Peace Plus programme in Northern Ireland. (910924)

Mr Speaker, before I begin, I hope you will not mind, but I just want to send my very best wishes to my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire), the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and to Minister Edwin Poots from the Northern Ireland Executive for a full and speedy recovery for both of them.

I would also like to send best wishes to President-elect Joe Biden on the inauguration later today. He is a man who has a strong personal connection with the island of Ireland. We all know that the US has been a huge supporter of the peace process in Northern Ireland for many decades.

I am pleased that the UK Government are the majority contributor to the Peace Plus programme. We have committed to providing over £500 million between now and 2027, which will fund activities that promote peace and reconciliation. The framework for Peace Plus is in development now, but we remain as a Government committed to that Peace Plus programme and to engaging with key partners to ensure that, once agreed, it will have maximum impact for all the people of Northern Ireland.

As we enter the centenary year for Northern Ireland, it would of course be easy to reflect upon a history that has been characterised at times by division. Given the possibilities of the new EU trade deal, of dual trade in Northern Ireland and relative peace and prosperity, does my right hon. Friend agree that we should be looking forward with confidence as one Union?

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. As Northern Ireland enters its centenary year, it is the right time to shine a light on what makes it so special as we look to a bright future. Fostering economic growth and social cohesion is key to building a stable and prosperous future for Northern Ireland. I was pleased to be able to announce the £400 million of new money, in the new deal for Northern Ireland just before Christmas, to help boost economic growth, competitiveness, infrastructure and the social fabric. We are planning an exciting programme to promote Northern Ireland’s potential across the United Kingdom, and also internationally.