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Rural Development Minister announces roadshows to promote Equality

27 September, 2007


The Sinn Fein Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA, has encouraged rural dwellers, equality groups, and rural stakeholders to come along to a series of equality roadshows.

Announcing the roadshows/seminars to promote equality in the new Rural Development Programme (RDP), she said:

"I am focused on ensuring equality is at the heart of the department's work. I would encourage as many people as possible to come along to these roadshows as they will help the department gauge local need. They will also be a vital source of information for all those who will be involved in delivering the Rural Development Programme.

"The new £500 million Rural Development Programme, which was recently approved by the European Union, is for everyone who lives in a rural community, and I want everyone to benefit from it.

"As well as farmers, this very much includes minority ethnic groups, people living with disabilities and people of all sexual orientations."

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has already embarked upon a formal consultation on its equality impact assessment of the RDP. The roadshows are being held throughout Northern Ireland over the next two weeks and they aim to provide rural dwellers with an opportunity to discuss rural equality issues and concerns in a personal and informal local setting.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  1. Each roadshow will comprise two sessions, from 3 p.m to 5 p.m and from 6 p.m to 8 p.m Details of the roadshows are as follows: Tuesday 2 October 2007, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Greenmount Campus, 22 Greenmount Road, ANTRIM; Thursday 4 October 2007, Mourne Country Hotel, 52 Belfast Road, NEWRY; Tuesday 9 October 2007, Lodge Hotel, Lodge Road, COLERAINE; Wednesday 10 October 2007, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Loughry Campus, Dungannon Road, COOKSTOWN; Thursday 11 October 2007, Loughs Agency, 22 Victoria Road, DERRY.
  2. In compliance with Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) is required on all new policies and programmes. In assessing the impact of the new Rural Development Programme (RDP), 2007-13, DARD is required to promote equality of opportunity between the nine Section 75 groups and, in addition, promote good relations between persons of different religion, political opinion and racial group.
  3. There are 3 main axes of the RDP: Improving the competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sector;
    Improving the environment and the countryside; The quality of life in rural areas and diversification of the rural economy.
  4. Axis 1 measures focus on a wide section of the agri/food/forestry sector. It is hoped that ultimately the benefits of a more competitive farming industry will also be felt by farm families and the wider rural community.
  5. Axis 2 measures are designed to protect and enhance Northern Ireland's natural resources and landscapes in rural areas. At this stage, it is not anticipated that there will be any differential or negative equality impacts created as a result of the environmental, forestry and less favoured areas measures that make up this axis.
  6. Axis 3 measures are designed to strengthen the social and economic infrastructure of the entire rural community and therefore have the potential to provide benefits across all the equality categories identified under Section 75. In the last RDP, there was a focus on women, young people and farm families. These groups will continue to be targeted, but now alongside all equality groups as part of commitments to a range of key cross-cutting government equality strategies.
  7. The minister outlined delivery mechanisms for parts of the Rural Development Programme on 20 September
  8. For more information about the Rural Development Programme, the EQIA, or for copies of our consultation document, contact Karen Beggs, Tel: 028 9052 4347.

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