Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has said that rural communities will suffer as the economic fallout of Brexit becomes clear.
Declan McAleer said:
“We were promised by the British government that they would replace EU funding that was lost as a consequence of Brexit.
“However, during question time this week the Finance Minister revealed that there has been no progress on this fund and no clarity as to what, if any role the Executive will play in its governance.
“An £11 million Community Renewal Fund has been introduced as a pilot but the £11 million is considerably less than the approximately 70 million per annum that we previously received from comparable EU structural funds.
“The Community Renewal Fund has three themes, but the Executive is only able to express an interest in only one of those themes, transport. The other themes are town centre renewal, arts and culture and I am very alarmed that there is no mention of a funding stream for a successor to the EU Rural Development Programme.
“As well as the huge funding shortfall, this fund will be delivered from Westminster with little or no role for the local Executive and it has also been indicated that the Shared Prosperity Fund may operate in that way.
“This is further contradiction of the hype we heard from the Brexiteers about ‘taking back control’ and the wonderful opportunities that will emerge from Brexit.
“The reality is that we have lost control, there is a significant hole in our budget and local communities will lose out on opportunities for growth, development and prosperity.”