West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Rural Proofing Bill consultation started - McAleer

Published: 6 February, 2015

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA and DARD committee member Declan Mc Aleer has urged rural dwellers to take part in the public consultation on proposals for a new Rural Proofing Bill. The Bill, who would require policy-makers to assess whether proposed policy is likely to have an impact in rural areas is open for consultation from 3rd February until 16th March. Mr McAleer said, "The proposed Rural Proofing Bill will ensure that the interests of rural dwellers are catered for in any development and delivery of policy and public services. "Sinn Féin has supported this legislation and we have already raised this issue through the DARD committee as we feel it is important that we make sure that rural issues are an integral part of the development of government policy and public services. "While the Executive signed up to rural proofing in 2002 the Minister is to bring forward new legislation within the current Assembly mandate and, when enacted, this Bill will help support vibrant, thriving and sustainable rural communities, where people choose to live, work, learn and play. "670,000 people or 37% of the population of the North live in rural areas and many feel that that they do not have the same access to services or opportunities as people living in urban areas. "It is therefore important that if rural dwellers are to get equality in access to services and opportunities then they respond in large numbers to this consultation and help shape the new bill. "The proposed Bill will give a strong statutory basis for rural proofing and ensure that rural needs are firmly embedded across government. I strongly encourage all interested parties to respond to this consultation by 16 March." "The consultation can be accessed on DARD's website at:www.dardni.gov.uk/consultations and will run until 16 March 2015. As part of the consultation exercise, DARD is also hosting a series of public meetings to hear your views and people can register for them at rural.proofing@dardni.gov.uk or phone 028 9052 4106.