Equal footing needed for rural businesses - Oliver McMullan
East Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan said it is crucial the Executive support rural businesses and promote rural areas as prime spots for the setting up of new businesses.
The Sinn Féin agriculture spokesperson was speaking in support of a motion due before the Assembly on Tuesday calling on the Executive to increase support for rural businesses.
“The final draft of the Rural White Paper initiated by Michelle Gildernew when she was Agriculture Minister is due to be published shortly and it is hoped it will bring all the government departments together with a central theme of working for the benefit of rural issues.
“This along with current Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s longer term strategy for the agri-food sector will be a crucial factor in supporting rural business and creating much-needed jobs.
“We need to be pro-active in promoting not only rural businesses in general but also in attempting to attract big business to rural areas. The Councils Economic Development Plans also have a big part to play along with other statutory agencies in supporting current businesses and promoting rural sites as ideal venues for larger companies to set up.
“There is a large pool of workers available in rural areas and with added support, along with these programmes of work undertaken by the Executive, rural areas can be put on an equal footing with their urban neighbours.
“On the issue of advertising there needs to be a flexible and commonsense approach taken. Conservation is a crucial issue for rural communities but so is making a living.”