Rural difficulties need 'Integrated Approach' - McGuinness
12 May 2011
McGuinness says integrated approach needed to tackle rural difficulties
The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA has said that the Executive must help create enhanced employment and education opportunities for the rural community.
He was speaking at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) annual breakfast at Balmoral Show, where he highlighted the need for an integrated approach to assist rural dwellers at this time of economic uncertainty.
Mr McGuinness said: "I would like to see improvements in broadband and rural transport services. I would like to ensure that there is a focus on reducing poverty and social exclusion amongst rural dwellers and to developing more innovative approaches to the delivery of key services in rural areas.
"I want to ensure that these issues are tackled in an integrated fashion – with all departments across government taking account of rural issues and playing their part in addressing rural challenges."
He complimented the efforts of the food and farming industry to the wider economy of the north, saying: "There is a significant contribution made by rural businesses to our overall competiveness. In the past year the agricultural output was some £1.5billion and taken together, the production and processing industries account for just under 6% of the north’s employment and contribute almost £1billion per annum in terms of gross value added. This level of economic contribution cannot be underestimated or praised highly enough."
Mr McGuinness paid tribute to the work of Michelle Gildernew as Agriculture Minister, saying that she knew and understood the needs of farming and rural communities.
The deputy First Minister said: "A well as helping to further grow the impact of the agri-food sector, Michelle helped tackle many wider isues through DARD’s rural development programme. By addressing issues such as rural transport, rural childcare and rural fuel poverty, through working with stakeholders both inside and outside government, she made a real difference to the lives of rural dwellers."
The deputy First Minister also paid a tribute to former DARD Minister David Cairns, who died earlier this week.
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