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PEACE I Overview

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PEACE I Programme (1995 -1999)


PEACE I was established to ‘make a positive response to the opportunities presented by developments in the Northern Ireland peace process during 1994, especially the announcements of cessation of violence by the main republican and loyalist paramilitary organisations"[1].

In 1994 the European Commission (EC) created a special Task Force to look into ways of giving practical assistance to Northern Ireland and the six border counties of Ireland (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo) in consultation with the national authorities. The creation of the Task Force was an expression of the European Union’s (EU) commitment to the peace and reconciliation process.

The Task Force conducted a broad-based consultation with both governments, with extensive input from local authorities, business, trade unions, voluntary groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). It was the opinion of the Task Force that ‘the European Union has a clear interest and vital role to play in maintaining the momentum for peace and reconciliation by means of a special support programme for Northern Ireland and the border counties…… not only for the benefit of the region most affected, but also for the wider benefit of the European Union as a whole.’

On the basis of this conclusion, the European Council of Essen (December 1994) approved a proposal for a multi-annual Community Initiative and in July 1995 formally established the ‘Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (SSPPR)’, now referred to as the PEACE I Programme. A budget of €300m[2] was allocated for an initial period from 1995-1997 and further financing of €200m was provided for the period 1998-1999.

Overall, the five-year investment totalled a significant €667m i.e. 75% (€500m) from the EU Structural Funds and 25% (€167) from national contributions. The EU Structural Funds involved include: The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); The European Social Fund (ESF), The European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) and The Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG).

Spread over three tranches, PEACE I offered an entirely unique proposition because it delivered a very deliberate ‘bottom up’ approach in showing the EU’s support for and commitment to the peace process in Northern Ireland and the border counties. It utilised a grass roots approach in its design and implementation. 


Aim & Objectives

Strategic Aim: ‘To reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society and to promote reconciliation by increasing economic development and employment, promoting urban and rural regeneration, developing cross-border co-operation and extending social inclusion.’

Strategic Objective 1: ‘To promote the social inclusion of those who are at the margins of social and economic life.’

Strategic Objective 2: ‘To exploit the opportunities and address the needs arising from the peace process in order to boost economic growth and advance social and economic regeneration.’


Logic Model


Programme Structure



The PEACE I Programme was complex in its structure, involving a wide-ranging mandate, coupled with far-reaching delivery mechanisms. It was made up of 5 priorities, 8 Sub-programmes and 35 measures – involving 64 Implementing Bodies across two jurisdictions. 

PEACE I focused on ‘inclusion’ and ‘bottom-up participation’, aiming to benefit all communities in an equitable and balanced way, while focusing on the most deprived areas, particularly those people and areas most affected by the conflict. PEACE I also addressed sensitive issues such as working with victims and survivors of the conflict and their families and the reintegration of former paramilitaries. To this end, the Programme was given a wide scope to include 5 priority areas of action under the central objective of reconciliation. The priorities reflected the socio-economic development thrust of the Community Initiative.




Focus of activity

(1) Employment

To promote peace and reconciliation, respond to the opportunities and challenges of peace, by boosting growth and employment it supporting the redirection of redundant skills, as well as reinforcing efforts for the long term unemployed, those most affected by the conflict and the young and by encouraging greater participation by women in the labour force.

This priority funded projects to help boost economic growth and embed peace by fostering an economic regeneration that would be a tangible benefit of the wider peace process.

(2) Urban and Rural Regeneration

To promote peace and reconciliation by renewing urban areas affected by multiple deprivation especially by resourcing local residents to tackle the social and environment needs within their communities.

This priority sought to make a visible and immediate impact directing funding to areas visibly underdeveloped and/or scarred by conflict.

(3) Cross-Border Development

To promote cross-border reconciliation in rural areas by encouraging activities which help to bring the communities in those areas together, and by helping to develop the rural economy.

This priority focused on cross-border development as another obvious and visible symbol of the changing political environment.

(4) Social Inclusion

To promote peace and reconciliation by encouraging grass-roots and cross-community co-operation, as well as actions to address the specific difficulties faced by vulnerable groups and others at a disadvantage such as victims, children and young people and those previously caught up with violence and ex-prisoners.

The priority social inclusion was intended to focus on the ‘hard edges’ of the conflict, such as cross-community work. This was based on social contact to build up a ‘reconciliation package’, which would draw on the fields of culture, arts, sports and leisure.

(5) Productive Investment and Industrial Development

To promote peace and reconciliation by stimulating private sector investment leading to sustainable employment and development especially in disadvantaged areas.

This priority complemented the first priority on employment, by directing funding towards the development of the small business sector and boosting competitiveness.

Technical Assistance

To publicise and provide information on the Programme; support the management, monitoring and effective evaluation of the Programme; and to enable broad participation in the Programme, especially by local and grass-roots organisations.

Programme Management and Communications.

Each of the Priority areas was associated with an individual Sub-programme seeking to achieve specific outcomes. Overall, these 5 priorities, together with Partnerships[3], Flagships[4] and Technical Assistance, formed the 8 Sub-programmes of PEACE I. Each Sub-programme had a number of associated ‘Measures’ – detailed in the table below, along with the EU budget allocation per region.





1: Employment

1.1 Boosting Growth and Retraining for Peace


1.2 Action for jobs


1.3 Improving the accessibility and quality of training, education, and employment services


1.4 Accompanying infrastructure and equipment support


2: Urban and Rural Regeneration

2a Urban Regeneration

2a.1 Urban Regeneration – Belfast & Derry-Londonderry


2a.2 Urban Regeneration – Region wide


2b Rural Regeneration

2b.1 Community Based Actions


2b.2 Rural Economic Development


2b.3(a) Water-based tourism


2b.3(b) Fisheries and Agriculture


2c Urban and Rural Regeneration

2c.1(a) Urban and Village renewal and tourism


2c.1(b) Urban and Village renewal and tourism


2c.2 Community-led development


3. Cross-Border Development

3.1 Business and Cultural Language


3.2 Infrastructure


3.3 (a) Co-Operation between Public Bodies (ERDF)


3.3 (b) Co-Operation between Public Bodies (ESF)


3.3 (c) Co-Operation between Public Bodies (EAGGF)


3.3 (d) Co-Operation between Public Bodies (FIFG)


3.4 (a) Cross-border Community Reconciliation


3.4 (b) Cross-border Community Reconciliation


4. Social Inclusion

4.1 Developing grass roots capacities and promoting the inclusion of women


4.2 Preventing Exclusion


4.3 Promoting the inclusion of children and young people


4.4 Promoting the inclusion of vulnerable groups and improving accessibility and quality of services aimed at these groups


4.5 Promoting pathways to reconciliation


4.6 Accompanying infrastructure and equipment support


5. Productive Investment and Industrial Development

5.1 Investment Promotion


5.2 New Industrial Development Services


5.3 Trade Development


6. District Partnerships

6.1 District Partnerships


6.2 District Partnerships


6.3 District Partnerships


7. Technical Assistance

7.1 Technical Assistance


8. Flagships

8.1 Flagships


A total of 20 of the Measures are implemented both North and South of the Border. 9 Measures support actions in Northern Ireland only. 3 Measures relate to the border counties only. The Measures were designed around supporting socio-economic development and addressing the immediate and visible impact on the ground. Reflections from those involved at the time of the Programme stressed the importance of the economic regeneration focus and investing in the physical, financial and inclusive commitment of PEACE I as a catalyst for change in Northern Ireland and the border counties.


Cross-Cutting Principles


The 6 Cross-Cutting Principles of the Programme included: additionality; targeting disadvantage; partnership; bottom-up approach; complementarity; equity and balance. The application of these Principles provided a means of inspiring actions/projects with a positive relevance to the strategic aim of peace and reconciliation.



PEACE I covers the period 1995 to 1999. The end date for spend was 2001 (N+2).

The programme was weighted (23%) towards Social inclusion as a ‘pathway to reconciliation’. 80% of the budget was made available in Northern Ireland with the remaining 20% allocated to the border counties.




Border Counties



Match Funding

European Currency Unit*








Urban and Rural Regeneration






Cross-Border Development






Social Inclusion






Productive Investment and Industrial Development


















Project Budget






Technical Assistance






 TOTAL (million)






*The ECU was the monetary unit used by the European Monetary System before being replaced by the euro. The ECU was introduced in 1979 and replaced by the euro in 1999.


Delivery Mechanisms & Processes


Programme Management


The Programme management structure is summarised below.

The two Member States that oversaw the PEACE I Programme are the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland. The interests of the two Members States were represented by the Department of Finance and Personnel (Northern Ireland) and the Department of Finance (Ireland), responsible for designating central funding and the overall implementation of the PEACE I Programme.

The Programme was governed by a Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC). The role of the PMC was to ensure that the allocated funds were spent efficiently and timely, met the objectives of the Programme and achieved good value for money. The PMC included Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and European Commission officials as well as representatives from local authorities, business, trade unions, community and voluntary groups and farmers. The PMC held eleven meetings throughout the lifetime of the Programme between February 1996 and December 1999.

The PMC was advised by a standing Consultative Forum, which was intended to reflect the wishes of local interests and grass-roots opinion throughout the eligible areas. This Forum consisted of representatives drawn from the voluntary and community sector, local government, employers and employee organisations, women's groups, the agricultural and fishing sectors, the education sector, statutory bodies and other interests.

A Paying Authority was established for each EU Structural Fund; responsible for making payments in respect of their respective Sub-programme and Measure, and responsible for the submission of claims to draw down monies from the European Commission. The Paying Authorities for the four structural funds in the PEACE I Programme were:


EU Structural Fund

Northern Ireland

Border Counties













Note: Names of departments reflect those that were in existence at the beginning of the PEACE I Programme

For each individual Sub-programme and Measure, a Measure Leader was established. The Measure Leader was responsible for coordinating claims for expenditure incurred for those Measures for which they were responsible and thus were responsible for drawing down monies from Paying Authorities on behalf of Intermediary Funding Bodies. Furthermore, Measure Leaders were responsible for the completion and submission of final reports.


Project Delivery

The decentralised delivery mechanisms comprised of 64 different Implementing Bodies/organisations, responsible for one or more Sub-programmes and Measures. The reason the Programme had such a wide-ranging number of organisations responsible for delivery was outlined by the European Commission’s Task Force, stating that the implementation and delivery mechanisms should ‘facilitate genuine bottom-up involvement by empowering local agencies and groups to participate in the direction and control of spending’.

Organisations fell into one of the following three categories:

  1. Government Departments or Statutory Bodies.
  2. Regionally based Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), comprising Intermediary/ Funding Bodies (IFBs) and Sectoral Partners (also known as Independent Bodies).
  3. Locally based organisations including six County Council-led Task Forces in the border counties; and District Partnerships in Northern Ireland, one in each of Northern Ireland’s then 26 District Council areas.

Government Departments assumed one or more of three distinct roles: (1) Direct delivery mechanism, receiving applications and processing and deciding on the provision of funds to the project applicants (2) Active Sub-programme leader, helping to shape policy and delivery mechanisms, in association with IFBs (3) Passive Sub-programme leader, primarily performing a financial accountability function or facilitating the delivery of particular elements in a Sub-programme.

In terms of local delivery, the completely new structure of District Partnerships in Northern Ireland represented a high-risk socio-political experiment. Considering the long history of deep division and conflict, attaining agreement to work in partnership was not without its challenges, and was met with suspicion and mistrust from all political parties in Northern Ireland. However, the peace and reconciliation funding provided for important work at grassroots level with the District Partnerships ‘helping to build trust between the different sections of the North’s communities, which was vital for a lasting peace.[5]


The Northern Ireland Partnership Board (NIPB) was also established, as part of DoE-NI, to oversee the District Partnerships. In keeping with the PEACE I partnership principle, NIPB was a cross-sectoral partnership including representation from the voluntary and community sector, trades unions and the business sector, District Councils, statutory agencies and central government. The NIPB’s role included the allocation of funds to the local Partnerships. This was done using a formula that incorporated population size and deprivation levels. The District Partnerships had to prepare local strategies and action plans for approval by the NIPB.

In the Republic of Ireland, County Council-led Task Forces (CCTF) were set up in the six border counties. Each Task Force was representative of County Enterprise Boards, Area Partnerships, Regional Tourism Organisations and community and voluntary based groups and had responsibility for the identification and approval of projects. Funds allocated to the CCTFs under the PEACE I Programme reflected the needs of the particular geographical areas.

The delivery structure was described by the PEACE I Evaluation (2003)[6] as ‘innovative and new’ and that ‘the majority of PEACE Programme funds were successfully delivered through regional, sectoral and local decentralised funding bodies which led to the creation of a delivery infrastructure that was carried through to PEACE II.’

Whilst these decentralised delivery mechanisms took longer than expected to implement, they resulted in a genuine bottom-up involvement in the delivery of the Programme. ‘Although more costly, the decentralised approach was more effective in terms of community empowerment, targeting disadvantaged groups and promoting social inclusion, all of which are consistent with the objectives of the PEACE Programme.[7]

The decentralised approach provided a forum for discussion for political, statutory and community representatives who might not otherwise have met. For the first time elected representatives from all political parties put aside their political differences to come together to plan and make decisions about the allocation of funds. This dialogue continued at a Programme level, when at the macro level political discussions had frequently broken down.

In a communication from the European Commission of the European Communities (1997)[8] to the European Parliament it noted that ‘the District Partnerships constitute a working model of local cooperation, which involves political representatives across the spectrum who put aside their differences on other matters for the sake of their communities.…..In a region where opportunities to work together have been too few, the PEACE Programme has provided important structures and incentives which have encouraged cooperation. This has been most notably demonstrated in the case of the District Partnerships. The result has been that people can see directly the value of a stable society, and the value of using argument and debate to tackle differences, rather than other more destructive paths.’




It took time to establish the innovative delivery mechanisms, which were an integral part of the Programme.

The IFBs in Northern Ireland were not announced until late-1995 and did not begin processing applications until early-1996. In the border counties, ADM/CPA did not issue application forms until early-1996. Also, given the fact that the intention of the Programme was to engage groups which have not previously been involved in European funding, it was important to allow time for local organisations on the ground to prepare and submit their applications.


The PEACE I Evaluation (PwC, 2003)[9] identified a number of lessons learned focusing largely on the administration of the Programme and the complexity created by its desire to be more inclusive and grass roots based. This included a clearer understanding of the role of the various funding bodies and areas of responsibility. It also noted the need for better systems and procedures around allocation and access to funding and monitoring of financial information. 





The PEACE I Programme Document did not define peace and reconciliation in terms that could readily be applied in project selection nor evaluation, apart from emphasising the need to tackle disadvantage and encourage a bottom-up approach. No quantifiable targets were set for the Programme, however, the PEACE I Evaluation (2003) reported a significant volume of outputs.

Whilst a central monitoring system was created as a repository of information on the quantifiable outputs and achievements of the Programme, it took time to develop the databases (only operational by 1998) i.e. the Central Applications and Approvals Database (CAAD) and The Optimum Monitoring Return (OMQ) database. As a result, during the lifetime of the Programme, they were of limited effectiveness in providing regular and up-to-date information regarding outputs and results. A key experience gained from PEACE I was that the aims and objectives and performance / impact indicators should be developed to reflect these objectives in advance of commencement of a programme.


Outputs & Impacts

PEACE I was spread as thinly and broadly as possible to show people that the commitment made by the EU and British and Irish governments meant that everyone involved was serious about peace. It committed to reaching communities at the coalface of the Troubles, giving people the capacity to be innovative. The Programme started to rebuild bridges, establish cross-border connections, slowly working with communities to effect change. There was a recognition that not everything might work but it was important at that time to get people to buy into the possibility.


Overall, the reach of PEACE I was extensive attracting 31,044 applications and assisting 15,016 projects reaching 868,162 participants. According to the PEACE I Evaluation (2003)[10]:

  • Small grants of £3,000 or less accounted almost one-third of approvals. Although they represented less than 2% of the value of all approvals, these grants played an important role in increasing access and broadening the spread of the Programme.
  • Projects were widely distributed geographically, both in Northern Ireland and the border counties. Many communities gained from participation in PEACE I.
  • PEACE I achieved a pronounced skewing of resources towards disadvantaged areas, with over 60% of funds going to designated disadvantaged areas, which account for 34% of the population.
  • The Programme facilitated participation by hard-to-reach groups such as victims of violence and politically motivated ex-prisoners.

The PEACE I Evaluation (2003) reported wide-ranging outputs, as per the table below, derived from the Programme’s monitoring systems (CAAD and QMQ). Caveats are provided surrounding the data in terms of a lack of completeness, degree of either under or over-estimation, as well as variations across funding bodies in terms of data capture and reporting. Despite this, the evaluation notes that the numbers recorded “give a good indication that the PEACE I Programme was a busy Programme characterised by high levels of activity and a fair degree of reach in terms of numbers of people engaged with the Programme.”


PEACE I (1995 – 1999)


Number of projects


Number of cross-border projects


Proportion of projects stating they had created new cross-border linkages or networks


Participants engaging in cross-border activities for the first time


Projects claiming had generated employment


Net jobs created

7,000 – 8,000

Feasibility studies/seeding grant


Funding used to provide capital costs


Purchase of equipment (number of projects)


Number of roads improved


Square metres of sites improved


Square metres of new buildings


Square metres of buildings upgraded


Tourism projects


Number of facilities created


Number of facilities upgraded


Training projects


Total number of participants recorded


Total qualifications recorded


Childcare projects


New accredited day care places provided


New pre-school education places provided


Guidance/counselling projects


Guidance/counselling sessions created (hours)


Participants (excluding one-off events/festivals)


Projects saying they had identifiable participants


Total reported participants


Total number from the projects primary target group


One-off events/festivals


Number of participants (in projects saying had identifiable participants)


Source: PEACE I Programme Optimum Monitoring Questionnaire Database


The major strengths of the PEACE I programme, as identified by the PEACE I Evaluators, included:

  • The extent of participation across a broad spectrum of society and involving a major voluntary effort.
  • Tackling disadvantage, reflected in the emphasis on engaging with target groups, which had not previously benefited from attention, and skewing towards disadvantaged areas.
  • The development of local communities, through the establishment of community groups and organisations which also had a strong jobs creation impact as a result.

These strengths of the Programme, which primarily stemmed from the social inclusion and regeneration impacts, facilitated positive contributions to promoting reconciliation and peace building on the ground i.e.

  • The creation of new cross-community and cross-border linkages and the strengthening of existing links.
  • The increased awareness of the need for reconciliation and respect for differences, a pathway to reconciliation that can be followed by single identity as well as cross-community projects.

The overall conclusion drawn from the PEACE I Evaluation (2003) is that Programme did make a difference in terms of the additional quantum of resources available to meet the socio-economic needs of the areas assisted and in respect of its strategic aim. The analysis of the peace and reconciliation impacts was, however, severely constrained by the lack of implementation of an evaluation plan throughout the life of the Programme. Whilst long-term impacts were difficult to discern, the Programme acted as a ‘catalyst for change’.

It is evident that significant engagement levels in PEACE I acted as a precursor and a foundation to the subsequent PEACE programmes, where the European Commission strove to ensure that the peace and reconciliation objectives of the programme were integrated more explicitly into PEACE II as part of a more targeted approach to tackled the more difficult issues of division.


Project Case Studies

Examples of projects supported by PEACE I can be found by accessing the following ‘Case Study’ link


Key Programme Reports

Key PEACE I Programme reports available include:

Report Type

Programme Reports

Programme report

Operational Programme - Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland 1995-1999 - European Structural Funds

Baseline Study

Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland (1996)

Programme reports

Implementation of the Partnership Principle: The Consultative Forum of the PEACE Programme (1999)

Impact Evaluations

Northern Ireland Single Programme 1994-1999 Mid Term Review

Impact Evaluations

Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland 1995-1999 - Mid Term Evaluation (1997)

Impact Evaluations

PEACE I Final Closure Report Volume I

Impact Evaluations

PEACE I Final Closure Report Volume II

Impact Evaluations

PEACE I Final Closure Report Volume III

Impact Evaluations

Ex-post Programme Evaluation of Peace I and Mid Term Evaluation of Peace II Final Report (2003)

Further reports can be found by accessing the Digital Library





Department of Finance & Personnel (DFP)

Department of Education for NI (DENI)

Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS)

Department of Agriculture for NI (DANI)

Department of Economic Development (DED)

Department of the Environment (DoE)

Training and Employment Agency (T&EA) (DEL)

Local Enterprise Development Unit (LEDU)

NI Partnership Board (NPB)

Department of Finance (DoF)

Department of Education (DE)

Department of Enterprise & Employment (DEE)

Departments of Environment & Local Government (DELG)

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

Department of Agriculture & Food (DAF)

Department of Marine & Natural Resources (DMNR)

Community Relations Council (CRC)

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Educational Guidance Service for Adults (EGSA) (Sectoral Partner)

Londonderry Development Office (LDO)

Making Belfast Work (MBW)

Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust (NIVT)

Proteus (Sectoral Partner)

Rural Community Network (RCN)

Rural Development Council (RDC)

The Childhood Fund - NI Pre-school Playgroup Association (NIPPA – became Playboard) (Sectoral Partner)

Tourism and Hospitality Training Council (THTC) (Sectoral Partner)

Training for Women Network (TWN) (Sectoral Partner)


Area Development Management/Combat Poverty Agency (ADM/CPA)

The Irish Business Employers Confederation (IBEC)

Co-operation Ireland


[1] SEUPB, (2007),Peace III – EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation 2007-2013 Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland: Operation Programme, Belfast: SEUPB

[2] The European Currency Unit (ECU) was the monetary unit used by the European Monetary System (EMS) before being replaced by the euro. The ECU was introduced in 1979 and replaced by the euro in 1999.

[3] District Partnerships was a separate Sub-programme in Northern Ireland for the locally based District Partnerships.

[4] Flagships was not part of the original PEACE Programme but was introduced as a result of a mid-term review (1997) to ensure the Programme had better coordination with other EU Community Initiatives.

[5] The Irish Times, (5 March 1997), Joint Campaign by NI MEPs for additional ‘peace money’

[6] PricewaterhouseCoopers, (November 2003), Ex-post Evaluation of Peace I and Mid Term Evaluation of Peace II Final Report (2003)

[7] SEUPB, (2000), Peace I Final Closure Report Volume I

[8] Archive of European Integration (AEI), Communication from the EC

[9] PricewaterhouseCoopers, (November 2003), Ex-post Evaluation of Peace I and Mid Term Evaluation of Peace II Final Report (2003)

[10] Ibid, (2003)