ONeill welcomes Executives approval of Rural Proofing Bill proposals

08 July 2015

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has welcomed the Executive’s agreement to the final policy content of the proposed Rural Proofing Bill and that drafting of the bill should begin.

She said: "The proposed Rural Proofing Bill will be important legislation which I firmly believe will benefit hundreds of thousands of rural dwellers in the north.

"These proposals are designed to promote a fair and inclusive rural society by introducing a duty on government and local councils to consider the needs of our rural dwellers when developing policies and delivering public services.

"We want to put in place a mechanism that will require policy makers to assess whether policy proposals could have a different impact in rural areas compared with elsewhere. The proposals will advance the cause of equitable treatment for rural dwellers by addressing their needs as an integral part of government policy.

"The bill will help ensure that the impacts of policies and strategies are fully assessed to tackle unfair disadvantage for our rural dwellers. This presents us with a huge opportunity to support vibrant, thriving and sustainable rural communities, where people choose to live, work, learn and play.

"I will be working hard to ensure that this new legislation can be introduced to the Assembly in September and will complete its passage within the current Assembly mandate."

A draft bill will now be prepared and brought back to the Executive for agreement, prior to its introduction to the Assembly.