RURAL Development Minister Michelle O`Neill has said she is committed to supporting community development in rural areas.
The Minister was speaking as she attended the Cookstown and Western Shores Area Network (CWSAN) Annual General Meeting in The Marina Centre, Ballyronan.
The Network is a community umbrella organisation which was formed in 1996 to represent and support the interests of community groups within the rural areas of Cookstown District and along the Western Shores of Lough Neagh.
The Minister said: “From April 2012 to March 2015 my Department will have provided around £3.6million in support of community development in rural areas. The success of this investment to date is largely due to a close working relationship between the Department and local Networks such as CWSAN in working together for the benefit of rural communities.
“These Networks help to build a strong community infrastructure which continues to be vital to deliver on the Executive’s priority of ‘Building a Strong and Shared Community’ as set out in the Programme for Government.”
Outlining her plans for continued community development support the Minister said: “One of the key elements in the ‘Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Framework’ is the continued support for rural community development which will assist individuals and organisations to avail of the opportunities presented by the Rural Development Programme; support the growth of the Social Economy; and build the capacity of rural communities to address issues of local concern.”