Strabane and Lifford Riverine Project handed £8m by EU

strabane town centre Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Strabane is close to the Irish border

The European Union is to invest almost €9m (£7.98m) in a project linking towns separated by the Irish border.

The Riverine Project will create a 30 acre cross-border park between Strabane in Northern Ireland and Lifford in the Irish Republic.

It is designed to unite communities and bridge religious and political divides.

Funding from the EU's Peace IV initiative was announced on Friday. Further funding is being provided by Belfast and Dublin.

Gina McIntyre of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) said the project would create a "shared space which citizens can enjoy together, irrespective of their background."

Riverine will see a new pedestrian bridge across the River Foyle and there will also be a new park, outdoor wetland and cross border paths for walking and cycling.

Ms McIntyre said the EU's Peace IV finances projects which help people understand they have much more in common than that which keeps them apart.

"This is one of the core goals of the programme as it helps people to overcome some of the prejudices that they may hold of the 'other' community," she said.

Riverine will host a community heritage engagement programme and a culture and peace activity trail.

A creative arts programme and a shared space connections project are also planned.

Image copyright SEUPB
Image caption The project spans 30 acres linking Strabane and Lifford

Ireland's Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said the EU funding "is a major boost for the area".

Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities said the project "provides a great opportunity to further our ambitions for a shared, welcoming and confident society that respects diversity."