Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Equality Commission - Damming indictment of draft Rural Planning policy

3 August, 2006


Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has said that the most damming statement in the preliminary response of the Equality Commission to the Draft Rural Planning policy (PPS 14) following concerns raised by Sinn Féin is that for the groups concerned (Catholics, nationalists, married persons, males and people with dependant children) that the consequences 'may be an erosion of the rural way of life, a weakening of social cohesion and a breakdown of traditional rural communities'.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Sinn Féin have lodged a formal complaint with the Department of Regional Development in relation to the negative impact of its draft rural planning policy outlined in PPS 14. We have also raised these concerns with the Equality Commission.

"The Commissions' response criticises the way data is used and presented to try and support the policy. The response also highlights the fact that there has been no comprehensive analysis of data and significant information gaps and a disregard by the department of its equality duty.

"But perhaps the most damming statement in the response is that for the groups concerned (Catholics, nationalists, married persons, males and people with dependant children) that the consequences 'may be an erosion of the rural way of life, a weakening of social cohesion and a breakdown of traditional rural communities'.

"We cannot have a policy that would have such a devastating affect on our rural communities.

"The preliminary response from the Equality Commission is a damming indictment of Draft Rural Planning policy (PPS 14). It recognises that PPS 14 will in effect discriminate.

"It is clear that the current British direct rule Minister David Cairns now needs to abandon his predecessor's ministerial statement of March 16th on PPS 14 because it is currently being used to reject applications made after that date.

"There is no way that the department can proceed with PPS 14 in its current form. In our submission to the consultation we mapped out a way forward that will deliver sustainable rural communities and a sustainable environmental approach. There have been thousands of responses to the consultation. It is vital that in coming forward with a response to the consultation that the views of people fighting for a future for rural communities are fully reflected." ENDS

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