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Sinn Féin launches Rural Development paper

22 June, 2005

Sinn Féin launched its response to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's PriceWaterhouseCoopers Study on Rural Policy on Monday, in the Private members restaurant in Stormont.

Speaking after the launch Sinn Féin's Economy spokesperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA for Foyle said:

"With the reduction in funding from the EU in the time ahead for rural development, alongside a changing policy of where money will be focused in the future and how it will be delivered, Sinn Féin believe that we need a wider debate about tackling the economic, social and cultural needs of our rural communities.

"Sinn Féin believes that the separation of policy and delivery in rural development must be addressed. In all of the extensive consultation and outreach work we have engaged in, this principle has been identified as central to a successful method of assisting and regenerating local communities.

"There is also a need to address the fact that because nearly all of the rural development money awarded has been European driven, many feel that programmes and projects are funding-led. Sinn Fein believe that programmes must not be funding-led but strategy-led.

"Currently the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is the only department involved in shaping, planning and delivering rural policy. Sinn Féin sees this as a fundamental weakness in developing a long-term strategic vision for our rural communities and in delivering a coherent rural development and rural regeneration strategy.

"We hope that all of the rural interest groups will pool their resources and energies to lobby all government departments to become actively involved in the future delivery and policy of developing rural communities." ENDS

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