According to the University of Ulster, several hundred of the 30,000 community based jobs in Northern Ireland could be endangered if the British government fails to access a minimum of £120 million set aside for Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein MEP, Bairbre de Bruin:
“The promotion and empowerment of the community sector must be a priority for the British Government if that sector is to be able to carry on its vital work of peace building and reconciliation. Without wishing to be alarmist, it is increasingly clear that if PEACE III funding is not secured then many community organisations and projects involved in peace building and reconciliation will find themselves in a precarious financial position. I have witnessed at first hand the invaluable work undertaken throughout the Six Counties (Northern Ireland) and the border region”.
But Jim Allister MEP of the DUP questioned the size (larger than the NI civil service) and effectiveness of the sector:
“I was astounded at the figures released yesterday by the University of Ulster showing that more than 30,000 people work for community organisations in Northern Ireland and the neighbouring counties within the Republic of Ireland. I wonder who all is funded within the community sector and what are these people doing to ensure there is a meaningful benefit to the communities in which they work.”