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Gildernew confirms DARD Direct office locations

23 January, 2009

Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has today confirmed that she will deliver DARD farm business services from 12 locations.

DARD Direct is a new one-stop-shop approach designed to improve the delivery of DARD services to farmers and farm families.

The Minister said "Today I can announce that I will roll the successful DARD Direct one stop shop approach out to 12 locations across the North."

In her statement she also confirmed ten DARD Direct Office locations in addition to Inishkeen House in Enniskillen. These are Omagh, Dungannon, Armagh, Newry, Downpatrick, Newtownards, Ballymena, Coleraine, Claudy and Magherafelt.

"I am glad to be able to announce these further DARD Direct locations today and end speculation and uncertainty for the majority of our customers and staff." She continued: "However, I have listened to the views of our stakeholders, the agri-food Industry, staff and the Assembly's Agricultural and Rural Development Committee and want to make absolutely sure that the best possible location is chosen for the remaining office. Therefore I have asked my officials to undertake some further work."

Minister Gildernew added :"I also want to reassure West Tyrone farmers that the Strabane office will remain open until greater accessibility to the Omagh DARD Direct office is achieved.

"With respect to a DARD Direct office for South and East Antrim, we will undertake some further analysis and discussion with key Industry and staff representatives before a decision is made. This will be done as quickly as practicable."

The roll-out of DARD Direct to the announced locations is a major project and will take place in phases over the next few years, as suitable premises are identified.

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