O’Neill Encouraged By Progress On Rural White Paper Action Plan
THE Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has published the first Annual Progress Report on the Rural White Paper Action Plan.
The Annual Progress Report 2013 provides an update on progress by Departments in implementing their commitments in the Rural White Paper Action Plan during its first year of operation.
Following publication of the Annual Progress Report, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “It is clear that significant progress has been made in implementing the commitments made in the Action Plan since I launched the initiative back in June 2012. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Executive colleagues for their continued support in taking forward this important initiative. I am pleased at the progress made by all Departments in implementing the wide range of commitments in the Rural White Paper Action Plan and I am confident that further progress will continue to be made.”
Pointing to a few of the significant actions that have progressed the Minister said: “I am particularly pleased by the progress made through closer co-operation. The Farm Family Heath Checks Programme, a joint initiative between my Department and the Public Health Agency, has seen around 2,300 clients receive health checks at farmers’ marts and at rural community events, while joint working between DARD and DSD in 200 hard to heat homes and DARD and Power NI in 300 further hard to heat homes has resulted in over 500 vulnerable rural homes receiving energy efficiency measures. I also welcome the progress made in taking forward initiatives to tackle rural crime including the establishment of the Rural Crime Unit and the Rural Crimestoppers campaign.”
The Minister added: “I remain committed to working to improve the quality of life of all those living in rural areas and I would like to encourage all Departments to continue working to support our rural areas to ensure that our rural communities continue to thrive and prosper.”