McAleer appointed Chair of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs committee
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has been appointed the Chair of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs committee.
Speaking on the appointment, Declan McAleer said:
“I am honoured to have been elected as the chair of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs committee.
“I have a proven track record in advancing rural development during my time in the Assembly, having previously participated on the committees for both Agriculture and Infrastructure.
“There are undoubtedly many challenges facing the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, but there are also great opportunities.
“In the immediate future Brexit is due to come into effect. This poses serious challenges for rural farmers, businesses and communities; I am committed to using my new role as chair of the committee to protect the interests of our farm families and rural communities.
“Other priorities that I will work to is the implementation of a new agriculture and rural strategy, the inclusion of rural issues in the Programme for Government, the restoration of the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme and the release of the de minimis funding for Sperrins farmers devastated by the 2017 floods.
“I will also work to ensure that the Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation initiative and other anti-poverty measures in the department are protected and exert influence to ensure that Project Stratum targets the many broadband ‘not-spots’ in rural areas.
“We are also facing a climate breakdown and a biodiversity crisis and I will also work to ensure that the department acts in a way that recognises the scale of the crises we all face. I will work to ensure that farmers are treated as part of the solution and not part of the problem.
“Sinn Féin will continue to work for a regionally balanced Executive which adequately invests in our rural communities and protects their interests in Government."
NOTE TO EDITORS: DECLAN MCALEER BIO
Declan is married to Geraldine and they have three children, Tárlach, Ríoghnach and Donnchadh.
He joined Sinn Féin as a teenager and is the current spokesperson on Transport and Infrastructure.
Declan has a particular interest in rural development and he has sat on the DARD, DRD and Standard and Privileges committees at Stormont.
He was co-opted into the Assembly in place of Pat Doherty when Sinn Féin implemented the policy which phased out dual mandates.
Declan was first elected to Omagh District Council in 2005, holding on to a seat previously held by his late father, Barney.
He was Chairman of Omagh District Council from 2010-2011 and previously held the position of chair of the Council’s Planning committee and Development committee.
Declan is a qualified Lecturer in Psychology and has taught in Omagh College and in Dean Maguirc College, Carrickmore.
He is also a member of the board of Governors of two local schools and was a member of the Western Education and Library Board for 6 years.
Declan was previously employed as a Political Advisor to Pat Doherty MP and has been involved in bringing forward a number of key strategic projects in the constituency, including lobbying for the transfer of the vacated military grounds at Lisanelly for use as a shared educational campus and securing progress on the A5 dual carriageway.
He is Chairperson of Loughmacrory Community Development Association and a member of Loughmacrory GFC.