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Rural Needs Bill will help tackle inequalitie

17 November, 2015 - by Declan McAleer

Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has welcomed the second reading of the Rural Needs Bill at the Assembly today.

 Mr McAleer said

 “Whilst we as a party welcome the Bill, we do not see it in isolation as we see it as an important part of a wider jigsaw and one of a package of measures to support and enhance rural areas.

 “The bill needs to be put in conjunction with CAP reform and how the North is being treated as a single region as we progress towards an equal rate in the single farm payment.

 “We also need to factor in the  £623 million rural development programme, LEADER funding for social and economic development in rural areas and the protection of the TRPSI budget as we look at the needs of the rural community. 

 “The bill needs to make sure that rural areas are properly assessed in terms of tackling poverty and social need.

 “Despite the fact that 37% of the population live in a rural areas yet not one area features in the top areas of deprivation across the North.

 “Last year the rural stakeholder forum was set up to consult with the Department on the need for a Bill.

 “It came up with a number of overriding themes and conclusions, one of which was that there is a need for more consistency and transparency across government.

 “The forum also believes that the Rural Needs Bill will increase awareness of the need for rural proofing and will result in better application of proofing, leading to better outcomes for rural areas.

 “Martin Ferris will introduce a similar private Member's Bill in Leinster House is in the other part of the island. 

 “This bill will be a major step towards achieving the Executive's objective of a fairer and more equitable rural society in which people and families will choose to live, work, learn and play and I look forward to shaping it in the time ahead to fulfil those objectives.”

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