§ Mr. Greg Knight
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will indicate the Government's policy on public funding of projects in Conway Mill with particular regard to applications for assistance from the International Fund for Ireland.
§ Mr. Tom King
Government policy on the payment of public funds to community groups, where there is evidence that such payments could directly or indirectly further the aims of a paramilitary organisation, is set out in the parliamentary statement of 27 June 1985 by the then Secretary of State. The nature and extent of paramilitary influence within Conway Mill is such that this policy has been applied to groups operating in or out of the Mill. Whilst I have reviewed the situation I am satisfied from the information available to me that influence remains such as to justify the continued withholding of funds to such groups in accordance with the terms of the parliamentary statement.
Article 3 of the bilateral agreement of 18 September 1986 between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland on the International Fund for Ireland provides that disbursements from the Fund shall be consistent with the economic and social policies and priorities of the respective Governments. I have accordingly indicated to the board of the fund that it would be inconsistent with the social and economic policies of this Government if the fund were to provide assistance to any body operating in or out of Conway Mill.
It is, on the other hand a most important aspect of our policies to stimulate development and activity in the more deprived areas of Belfast, including, of course, west Belfast. In this context, we welcome the initiatives taken by the International Fund for Ireland, within its programmes, to provide extra help for disadvantaged areas, including west Belfast. I understand that they have further proposals to that end under consideration.