West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Loughmacrory wins cleaner and greener community award

Published: 9 December, 2014

The community of Loughmacrory was celebrating at the weekend after winning an award for being a clean and green community. The scheme was launched in May by the Housing Executive and is aimed to reward rural communities for their environmental work. The awards were presented to 4 communities throughout the north with Loughmacrory winning the small village category.

A plaque, which was accompanied by a £1000 cheque, was presented to the chair of Loughmacrory Community Development Association, Declan Mc Aleer by Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey. In accepting the award, Mr Mc Aleer said "We are very proud of our stunning environment and the loughside setting in Loughmacrory.

"The lough itself is an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and as custodians of the lough we take our responsibilities very seriously. During the past number of years we have taken part in many environmental initiatives such as tree removal and replacement with indigenous species, biodiversity activities in conjunction with ODC, butterfly and moth trapping in partnership with Butterfly Conservation NI and along with the local angling club and Loughs Agency we manage the stocking of the lough and the protection of the native brown trout.

The awards were presented by Mervyn Storey, Minister for Social Development who said:

"It is a great pleasure for me to be invited to present these Rural Community Awards. With my background, I am fully aware of the invaluable work carried out by local people in rural communities to make them better places to live and raise a family.

"My Department provides important support to individuals, families, households, and communities in rural areas in a number of ways and I am committed to ensuring that rural communities get their equitable share. A vibrant, living countryside where people want to live is one issue I want to see further developed.

"I would like to congratulate not just the winners but everyone in the rural community for the fantastic work they do. There may be four awards for the overall winners but the work carried out by local community associations throughout Northern Ireland ensure that our rural communities are all winners."

Siobhan McCauley, Housing Executive Director of Regional Services, commented:

"We are delighted to present these rural communities with their prizes. While we have presented four communities here today, the competition entries have highlighted the tremendous work being carried on in rural communities across Northern Ireland. Each and every entry was highly commendable and I would like to pay tribute to all those who are actively engaged in their communities, making their contribution to improving not just the environment but also the community spirit within their rural neighbourhood.

"We know the importance of rural areas as places to live and work and we have been working to help build strong vibrant communities. Our Rural Awards competition was introduced following feedback from young people highlighting their concerns that not enough was being done to protect and enhance their villages. Through the awards we want to support and reward rural communities who work together to improve their neighbourhoods."

Orla McCann, of Supporting Communities NI who was involved in the assessment of the applications commented:

"It was a pleasure to be involved in the Rural Community Awards and have the opportunity to see the really valuable work being carried out by Community Associations in rural areas throughout Northern Ireland. I would like to congratulate not only the four winners, but all who took the time and trouble to submit an application to showcase their areas.

"The standard was set at an extremely high level indeed and was reflected in the variety of projects being carried out as well as their impact on the ground. It is a testimony to all those involved in working to improve their own areas and communities, they are an inspiration to us all!"