Rural development funding boosts Social Economy Enterprise

The Rural Development Programme (RDP) is helping to create improved facilities for isolated rural communities, according to Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill.

The Minister was speaking after a visit to Loughgiel Community Association where she saw at first hand how the local rural community has benefitted from RDP funding. The group received funding of £127,125 to help provide a community café and community garden.

Speaking after the visit, Minister O’Neill said: “Loughgiel Community Association is a prime example of what can be achieved by local people with the determination and vision to create facilities that meet local needs within a community. With the assistance of rural development funding, together with their own financial input, this community group has further enhanced its facilities and now offers much easier access to Basic Services for rural dwellers.”

The organisation was awarded funding by North East Region (NER) under the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) Axis 3 Measure 3.4 –“Basic Services for the economy and rural population”.

The Minister continued: “Creating access for rural dwellers to the types of basic services most urban dwellers enjoy is what this stream of funding is all about. I am encouraged that it is delivering on the ground and that rural Social Economy Enterprises are receiving funding specifically set aside to help them provide access to such services for the rural community.

“Partnership working is critical to the success of this programme and I know that I can rely on Local Action Groups, such as NER, and local Councils to continue to work hard to ensure that groups such as Loughgiel Community Association get the help they need to make an important contribution to addressing rural isolation.”

Manager of the enterprise, Angela O’Hagan, voiced her support for the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme and said that without the assistance provided through NER their project would not have been possible. They said: “We are indebted to DARD and NER for their support. The application process was straightforward and we would encourage others to avail of the opportunities that exist within the programme.”

The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (NIRDP) is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and over this period is worth £500million to the north.