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Gildernew visits Rasharkin Women’s Group After-School Club

3 April, 2008

Sinn Féin Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew, MP MLA, has paid tribute to the work of Rasharkin Women's Group during a visit to its after-schools club.

The Minister had the opportunity to see excellent service the group provides to rural women and children through the after-schools club, part-time educational and craft courses.

Praising the work of rural women the Minister said:

"As a rural dweller and working mother, childcare is an issue close to my heart. I have the greatest admiration for the tireless efforts of the community and voluntary sector in the provision of a diverse range of childcare. Parents want what is best for their children and this service offers accessible and affordable childcare which caters for the individual needs of all children.

"Rasharkin Women's Group have made great strides in providing a desperately needed service of exemplary quality. I would like to congratulate this group for demonstrating great imagination and creativity in providing facilities for all families in the local community. It has the potential to bring about great improvements in the lives of local women and children, support families and contribute to the economic and social development of the area."

The Minister highlighted the Department's commitment to improving the quality of rural life.

She said:

"Last year I decided to take a fresh look at the question of rural childcare by founding a Rural Childcare Stakeholders' Group. Setting up the group was the first step towards more accessible childcare for rural families.

"I am hopeful that the group's report and recommendations will help rural women to access training or employment opportunities through facilitating the provision of safe and stimulating environments in which their children can play and learn."

The Rural Childcare Stakeholders' Group will identify the main factors affecting access to childcare in rural areas, including special-needs childcare, and consider ways to advance matters. A report will also be produced detailing current difficulties in childcare provision in rural areas and recommendations will be made on how current and future provision can be improved.


Rasharkin Women's Group provides services including an after-schools club and a range of part-time educational and craft courses. It is based at Drumbolcan House.

In July 2007 the Minister established a Rural Childcare Stakeholder Group to produce a report on the issues related to childcare in rural areas. The final report is expected to be launched later in April. It consisted of various organisations with an interest or knowledge of childcare issues and was chaired by Siobhán Fitzpatrick of the NI Pre-school Play Association (NIPPA).

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