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Rural Strategy must drive forward investment

13 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has expressed disappointment over the comments of British Direct Rule Minster Jeff Rooker that the 'rural development policy can play its part in the sustainable development of the region' and said that the Rural Strategy must do much more than 'play its part' it must drive forward investment in our rural communities.

Ms Gildernew said:

"I think that many will be disappointed with Jeff Rooker's approach. The Rural Strategy must do much more than 'play its part', it must drive forward investment strategies and job creation, prioritise joined up government and delivery of services and it must deal with the key issue of planning.

"The strategy needs to set out clear targets on job creation, investment and access to services. Theses are essential components if it is to deliver sustainable communities. This requires a cross-departmental approach covering areas including rural transport, roads, planning, schools, healthcare, education and training and childcare.

"DARD need to be much more than rural champions the Rural Strategy must place a responsibility on all government departments and agencies to champion rural communities.

"There are enormous changes in relation to agriculture and fishing and the huge potential of tourism and environmental management. But these opportunities will be lost unless there is a central strategy driving forward a pro-rural agenda." ENDS

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