Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Rural Affairs Summit

24 October, 2003

Sinn Féin Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly candidate and Agricultural and Rural Development spokesperson, Cllr Gerry McHugh, will lead party members at the Rural Affairs Summit hosted by the Rural Development Council on Monday and Tuesday next week. This summit brings together all of the main decision makers in Rural Policy and delivery from across Ireland and Britain.

Speaking ahead of the Rural Affairs Summit Cllr McHugh said:

"Sinn Féin will ensure that a stronger bottom up approach is implemented in Rural Policy, and that the departments North and South come closer together to deliver a better, more effective Rural Policy. Both governments will have to place greater emphasis on the rights of Rural Families, and deliver jobs and services into Rural Ireland.

"We will peruse this agenda on an all-Ireland basis both in the Assembly and the Oireachtas.

"One of the key areas of Rural Development is its delivery mechanisms and strategies. This is something which will be discussed at the Summit and which formed part of the recommendations of the recent PWC Report into PEACE I and mid-term evaluation of PEACE II.

"The widely accepted failure of DARD‚s Rural Development programmes is born out in the report, and five out of six measures which have had NO approved applications are implemented by DARD. This is out of 34 measures and 22 sub measures in the whole of the PEACE II programme.

"We welcome the report and its findings and I am surprised at this stage in the PEACE II programme that some of the logistical and implementation problems still are unresolved. I welcome the recommendations, which put some greater emphasis upon Cross Border Reconciliation and creating a new measure - Innovative Actions. The simplification of the language in the programme, and a reduction in the number of implementation Bodies, which is causing great confusion is badly needed.

"Sinn Féin are also concerned at the number of ongoing evaluations, within the different programmes being delivered by DARD - PEACE, LEADER and BSP. There should be one evaluation for the agricultural and rural development bits of these programmes, including the Country Side Management scheme and the Environmentally Sensitive Scheme, and the Suckler Cow, Beef Special Premium, and the others that form the agricultural parts. All of these different evaluations serve little to inform the effectiveness of DARD in the implementation of all of these schemes. In effect these different evaluations are used as a tool to keep us from seeing the bigger picture." ENDS

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