By Ray O’Hanlon
Both the International Fund for Ireland and the U.S.-based charity Project Children are set to receive financial boosts from the U.S. government.
President Clinton signed into law Monday a foreign aid bill that includes money for both agencies.
Reps. Joe Crowley and Nita Lowey had initiated the moves in the House of Representatives to secure a $5.4 million increase in the annual U.S. contribution to the IFI and a first-time-ever U.S. grant to the non-profit Project Children.
The increases were attached to the Fiscal 2001 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate before Congress adjourned for the elections.
Project Children, the U.S.-based charity that offers six-week summer vacations to Catholic and Protestant children from Northern Ireland, is to receive $250,000 in federal aid as a result of the signed bill.
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Crowley said that he was pleased that he and Lowey had convinced the House of Representatives of the good work undertaken by both the IFI and Project Children.
"While there have been many successes since the signing of the Good Friday agreement, two groups that stand out for their cross-community initiatives and their hard work in bringing all sides together through cooperation and economic development are the International Fund for Ireland and Project Children," Crowley said.
Lowey said the efforts of both the IFI and Project Children bolstered the prospects for peace in Northern Ireland.
"I am delighted that this year’s Foreign Operations bill demonstrates a renewed commitment to the process," Lowey, a Westchester County representative, said.
Project Children was founded by Denis Mulcahy, a County Cork native who is a detective with the New York Police Department bomb squad. Mulcahy was the Irish Echo’s Person of the Year in 1998.
The International Fund for Ireland emerged from the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement. The annual U.S. contribution has been steady at $19.6 million in recent years.
The fund operates in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic, where it is intended to spur cross-community social, educational and economic cooperation and investment.