West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Economy main concern at rural development consultation

Published: 4 October, 2013

The representatives of over 50 rural groups took part in a consultation on the new Rural Development programme at a seminar in Kelly's Inn on Thursday evening. The event was jointly hosted by Tyrone MLA's Bronwyn Mc Gahan and Declan Mc Aleer and was facilitated by Lorraine Lynas, Richard Leeman and Paul Donnelly from DARD's Rural Development management branch. Speaking after the meeting Ms Mc Gahan said 'We are in the middle of an economic recession and rural people are very anxious about the future. The lack of jobs and forced emigration of young people was a recurring theme at the consultation. Linked to this, the importance of affordable childcare to enable parents to avail of employment opportunities was also raised. 'There was a lot of debate across a wide range of areas such as the need for investment in rural businesses and the importance of reliable community transport to ease the sense of isolation that people often experience in rural areas. Mr Mc Aleer added 'There was discussion around the implementation of the new programme and of the importance that lessons are learnt from the previous programme. Participants spoke of a need to remove the burden of red tape and the importance of an efficient 'Leader' approach in the delivery of some of the schemes. 'The issue of transferring funds between the pillars was also raised and this elicited a mixed reaction, some favouring it, while others feared the impact that this could have on single farm payments. The importance of using rural funding to create strong villages was also stressed, as this is the backbone of our communities and a focal point for economic activity. 'The consultation on the new programme is open until 5pm on Monday 21st October and I strongly advise stakeholders to take part by emailing their views to ruralpolicy.branch@dardni.gov.uk or writing directly to Donald House. The public consultation on pillar 1 (Single Farm Payments) is currently open until 17th January'.