West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Sinn Féin Ministers discuss rural schools

Published: 18 June, 2013

DARD minister Michelle O'Neill with Michaela Boyle MLA

DARD minister Michelle O'Neill with Michaela Boyle MLA

West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle has welcomed the joint discussion with Education Minister John O'Dowd and Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill on rural schools.

The Ministers discussed the Rural White Paper Action Plan and the commitments for the Department of Education flowing from it.

Following the meeting, John O'Dowd said: "As Education Minister I must ensure that every young person has access to a quality education. Today's meeting provided me with the opportunity to update the DARD Minister on progress on the area plans. It also provided us with the opportunity to discuss my Department's commitments under the Rural White Paper Action Plan and issues such as the promotion of greater out of hour's community use of school buildings and the Extended Schools programme in rural areas."

Minister O'Neill added: "While I recognise that access to a quality education for children in rural areas is our key concern, I highlighted today the important role that rural schools play in ensuring vibrant rural communities. I acknowledge that the Department of Education's Sustainable Schools Policy has been rural proofed in line with the Executive's commitment to rural proof all major policies and I am pleased that the needs of rural communities have been considered.

West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle welcomed the joint ministerial meeting and said,

"Rural schools play a vital role in the life of many isolated communities. We must make sure that they deliver their primary function, which is to provide the highest level of education possible. I welcome the assurances from both ministers that rural needs and circumstances will continue to be taken into account in any policy decisions they make.