Europe minister Lidington is cautious on peace funding
The UK Minister of State for Europe said he could make no promises regarding the possible matching of £150m of EU Peace IV funding for Northern Ireland, on 8 May 2013.
David Lidington told the OFMDFM Committee he would "take careful note" of the suggestion from committee chairman Mike Nesbitt of the UUP.
The minister said he would pass on the request but there were "significant pressures" on public spending across the board.
Mr Lidington said he had been moved by some of the presentations he had attended earlier in the day addressing matters such as interface areas, and involving young people in peace building.
Colum Eastwood of the SDLP expressed concern at the success of UKIP in the recent English local council elections and the possibility that the UK could vote to leave the EU.
Mr Lidington said the prime minister had made a speech indicating that he wanted "to see the United Kingdom as a full member of the European Union and shaping its policies".
David Cameron had stated that the EU needed reform, the minster added.
Mr Lidington said there was widespread public disaffection with the EU and this was not just a UK phenomenon, he mentioned France, Finland and Greece as other examples.
Mr Nesbitt put it to the minister that the UK traded at a deficit to the EU.
The minister said it depended which quarter you looked at and that "we still sell more to one German land, North Rhine Westphalia, than to the whole of India".
At the end of the briefing, Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said Mr Lidington's biography showed he enjoyed a sing-song.
"What's your party piece?", Mr Maskey asked.
"I probably better not say an Irish ballad from either side," the minister said, before plumping for the safe option of "Danny Boy".
Dr Paul Nolan of the Community Relations Council briefed the committee on the second Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report.
Dr Nolan said that, up until the flags protest in December, the peace process had been at its strongest yet in 2012.
He said that if he had published his report in early December he "would have gone down as the Michael Fish of political forecasting".
Dr Nolan said that between the murders of Constable Ronan Kerr and Prison Officer David Black there had been a period of 19 months without a security-related killing.
He said Northern Ireland was "the safest place in these islands and that's our best-kept secret".
Colum Eastwood raised the matter of the flags dispute.
Commenting on the feeling expressed by some people that they had got nothing from the peace process, Dr Nolan said: "People should not be so cavalier about dismissing what has been achieved."
He said the flags dispute had become "a lightning rod" for other concerns.