Questions over future EU funding for Derry

John Kelpie.
John Kelpie.

The Chief Executive of Derry and Strabane Council has said there are “significant questions” concerning EU funding for future projects following the vote by the majority of people in the UK to break away from the Union.

Mr Kelpie was speaking in response to questions on the matter from Independent Councillor Patsy Kelly at the Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning meeting in the Guildhall on Tuesday.

Speaking at the first council meeting since what he termed “that dreadful vote”, Colr. Kelly asked whether council chiefs foresaw any issues in terms of losing European funds for capital projects further down the line.

Mr Kelpie replied: “It’s obviously very early days in respect of this and right across Europe there are major discussions taking place regarding the UK and indeed Northern Ireland.”

He revealed that the council held a special meeting on Monday morning to examine the immediate implications with regards funding applications currently being submitted by the council to various EU funding programmes such as INTERREG, PEACE and the European Social Fund.

He said that at the moment it was “business as usual” with no immediate threat and that council officers were proceeding with the current funding applications as normal.

“Obviously beyond that there are significant questions but that is for another day,” he said, adding that the Council will monitor the situation closely.

Independent Councillor Derek Hussey said that nothing changes until Article 50 - the mechanism whereby the UK government formally announces its intention to quit the EU- is initiated, adding that even then, until a new Prime Minister is in place they will not know what the situation is.

He also called for Northern Ireland to get its fair share of the £350m the UK government will no longer be sending to the EU each year.