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Continued collaboration is key to success of future rural affairs policy, says committee

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 26 November 2020

Reference: AERA 03/20/21

Continued collaboration is key to success of future rural affairs policy, says committee  

The Assembly’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee received briefings today from Departmental officials and rural community representatives on future rural affairs policy here.

Speaking after the meeting, the Committee Chairperson Declan McAleer, MLA said: “Since the early 1990s, rural initiatives have been largely shaped, influenced and financially supported through EU policy. It is crucial, that Brexit does not disadvantage or disenfranchise our rural communities. This will require a strong and multi-faceted approach towards ensuring uninterrupted funding and support, as well as the creation of innovative programmes to strengthen infrastructure, connectivity, social inclusion and tourism.”

Mr McAleer continued: “We are pleased that the Department has approached the development of the framework through ongoing dialogue and collaboration with rural organisations. Local people are best placed to evaluate their needs and this process of co-design will be key to ensuring a cohesive approach to future rural policy and the evaluation of funding requirements.  We also believe that continued and close partnership working at a cross-governmental level will be a critical component in the success of any future rural policy.

“The opportunity under the EU Rural Development Programme for organisations here to work with similar groups in other Member States was central to enhancing learning and the sharing of knowledge. We would like to see the new policy include a mechanism whereby this collaborative approach could continue, as well as new arrangements to work in close partnership with the other legislatures on these islands.”     

Mr. McAleer concluded: “We do continue to have concerns around funding and while the development of pilot schemes such as the ‘Rural Micro Business Growth’ and ‘Website Development’ programmes are welcomed, we need a solid funding commitment from the UK Government. We will therefore continue, alongside the Executive and colleagues from the other devolved administrations, to ensure that future financial support remains at least equivalent to current EU funding streams. 

“As with the Future Agricultural Policy, we must ensure that we get this right. Policy decisions taken now will impact future generations and influence how our rural communities live, work and prosper in the future. We look forward to working alongside the Minister, his Department and with rural stakeholders to build this policy and to help ensure continued stability, innovation and growth across our rural areas.”


Notes to Editors:

The Committee received briefings today from Departmental officials and from representatives from the Rural Community Network, Rural Action and NI Rural Women’s Network. Further information is available on the Committee agenda here:

Committee Membership:

  • Mr Declan McAleer MLA (Chairperson)
  • Mr Philip McGuigan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
  • Ms Clare Bailey MLA
  • Mrs Rosemary Barton MLA
  • Mr John Blair MLA
  • Mr Maurice Bradley MLA
  • Mr Patsy McGlone MLA
  • Mr Harry Harvey MLA
  • Mr William Irwin MLA

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