31/01/2002

Trimble and Durkan meet EU President in Brussels

In response to criticism levelled at the Executive the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, have come out in strong defence of the recently opened £500,000 Northern Ireland office in Brussels.

Speaking from Brussels, First Minister David Trimble explained their presence in the heart of European affairs was essential. Mr Trimble said: "Our new office is a sign of Northern Ireland’s growing confidence and maturity as we participate within the European Union, keeping up to date with EU policy and working to influence it for the benefit of our people.”

The Ministers were speaking in Brussels on Thursday January 31, following a meeting with Professor Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission.

Mr Durkan said: “The First Minister and I were glad to be able to meet President Prodi, to personally thank him for his interest in Northern Ireland and his invaluable assistance in securing funding packages.

“Northern Ireland has, over the years, benefited enormously from EU funding. We are grateful to President Prodi and the European Union for support provided to Northern Ireland, not just in terms of funding, but also for the ongoing political process.

“We have been through some difficult times, and while there are still obstacles to overcome, we are hoping for a stable period to allow the devolved institutions to bed in. We aim to show the people of Northern Ireland the difference that devolution can make to their day-to-day lives, with locally accountable representatives making hard decisions on their behalf.” (AMcE)

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