West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Mc Aleer critical of cut to Rural Development budget

Published: 11 October, 2013

West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer has criticised the British government for not pursuing additional funding for the Rural Development Programme (Pillar 2) after the DARD Minister revealed that their decision will result in a 22% cut to the programme. Responding to a recent question from Mr Mc Aleer in the Assembly, Minister O Neill said: 'I was disappointed that, when it came to the overall EU budget, the British Government went to the negotiating table with a negative view, calling for a reduced budget. That was discussed at Westminster, and the DUP agreed with that position. She continued 'We are facing a reduction of about 22%. That will be an issue for us in the time ahead; the implications are that we will have to be very effective in how we design the new programme and in how we spend the reduced budget. Mr Mc Aleer added 'The British government made their decision despite the fact that countries like France successfully applied for an additional 1 billion euros and the south of Ireland received an additional 100 million euros. 'In terms of actual figures, Britain, with a population of over 60 million will receive almost 2.3 billion euros, while the 26 counties with a population of just over 4.5 million will get an allocation of approximately 2 billion euros. 'Whilst we are uncertain about the final allocation for the north, on a per capita basis that averages out at approximately 36 euro's per head in Britain compared to 420 euro's per head in the 26 counties. 'This is hugely disproportionate and will make it incredibly challenging to roll out a balanced rural development programme across the island. 'The Tories unwillingness to co-fund could have a detrimental impact on introducing anti poverty measures in the most deprived rural communities'.