The North and South Council of Ministers (NSMC) on Thursday formally approved funding for peace and reconciliation worth about billion South billion.
Approval of funds as part of the PeacePlus program supports projects in the border counties of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The program is supported by both the UK government and the European Union, and the Irish government and Stormont executive are involved in the funding initiative, which will see an investment of about £ 1 billion over the next seven years.
The scheme is an alternative to a series of long-running peace funding packages that have been in place in the region since 1995.
It applies to the border counties of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – Donegal, Sligo, Litrium, Kiwan, Monaghan and Loth.
Border counties in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have received more than 2. 2.7 billion in peace projects since the scheme began.
Some popular projects include the Peace Bridge on the Foil River and the reconstruction of the Gridwood Barracks in North Belfast.
Last month, Finance Minister Connor Murphy warned that the program was in jeopardy as a result of the DUP boycott of North-South institutions.
He said that if NSMC did not sign the Peace Plus funding, it could not be released.
The DUP has begun withdrawing from the NSMC and other cross-border organizations in protest of Brexit’s Northern Ireland protocol.
NSMC cannot operate without the participation of DUP.
However, the party said it would still allow some cross-border co-operation to move forward on health issues.
After agreeing on the agenda of First Minister Paul Giwan, the NSMC meeting moved forward on Thursday.
The fund is managed by the North-South Implementation Body, the Special European Programs Body (SEUPB).
Speaking after its approval, Mr Murphy said the money would provide “much-needed funding” for a number of projects on both sides of the border.
“This will include our health sector, with significant investments in supporting healthy and inclusive communities – which is particularly important in the context of the Covid 19 epidemic,” he added.
“Today’s approval is an important milestone in the PeacePlus program that will help further support economic recovery, youth investment, the environment and peace and reconciliation initiatives.
The SEUPB can now get formal approval from the European Commission to open the PeacePlus program for calls in early 2022.