Call for draft rural NI policy

SF DAERA TD Farm
GROUP: The Sinn Féin delegation who met the DAERA Permanent Secretary Dermot O Brien, left, were, from second left Declan Mc Aleer MLA, Bronwyn McGahan and Caoimhe Archibald MLA.

MORE than 100 jobs have been created and almost £10 million has been invested in rural communities as a result of schemes rolled out as part of the current Rural Development Programme, it has been revealed.

However, concern has been expressed that the Department of Agriculture has not yet drafted a post-Brexit Rural Policy similar to its Agriculture Policy.

West Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer raised these concerns with DAERA during a meeting between Sinn Féin, the Permanent Secretary and senior officials about the impact of Brexit on the future of rural development.

Following the meeting, Mr McAleer said: “Priority 6 of the Rural Development Programme provides support for community development and economic initiatives through funding streams such as the Rural Business Investment Scheme, Rural Basic Services Scheme, Broadband and Village Renewal.

“During the meeting with DAERA I was glad to learn that the current programme has already created 108 jobs and achieved £9.7m spend so far.

“However, I did express concern that the department has not yet drafted a rural policy for consultation on the same basis as the draft agriculture policy.

“I emphasised that Sinn Féin supports the North’s vote to remain in the EU and that any future policy must adopt the LEADER approach to ensure that local people are involved in local decision making and that any future policy must align with the rest of Ireland and the EU.”

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