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Ferris congratulates Stormont colleagues on Rural Needs Bill

8 March, 2016 - by Martin Ferris TD

Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has welcomed the progression of the Rural Needs Bill to its final stages at the Stormont Assembly. The bill was introduced by Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA and preparations are now underway for its implementation.

Deputy Ferris said:

“There was a lot of talk from government parties and Fianna Fail during the election campaign about rural areas. However, when I introduced the Rural Equality Bill in the Dáil, there was little support for it.

“As soon as the Dáil resumes, I will be asking for the Bill to be in the legislative diary. It is designed to stop discrimination against rural areas and to rural-proof all legislation with that in mind.

“I congratulate my Sinn Féin colleagues in Stormont for bringing the Rural Needs Bill to its final stages in the North.”

Speaking in Stormont, Declan McAleer, Sinn Féin MLA for West Tyrone, said:

“The Rural Needs Bill will go a long way to address the issues and challenges faced by rural dwellers. The North is the first area in the EU to introduce this kind of legislation and when Martin Ferris’s Bill is passed, Ireland will be the first country in Europe to enshrine rural proofing in legislation.”

“The organisations that came before us, to make presentations, represent thousands of people who live in rural areas, farmers and non-farmers.”

Minister O’Neill added:

“The Rural Needs Bill enhances the current rural proofing arrangements by requiring policy makers in public authorities to take the needs of rural dwellers into account when developing and implementing policies and when designing and delivering public services. The Executive committed to undertaking rural proofing in 2002 and reaffirmed that commitment in 2009.” 

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