Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Plan to improve life for islanders

A Rathlin Island action plan will see the construction of 10 social houses

A new action plan is being formulated to further improve life for the 100-plus inhabitants of Rathlin Island.

Residents have commended progress made during the last two years of the previous Stormont Executive strategy to enhance services and infrastructure on Northern Ireland's only populated off-shore island.

That work is now being reviewed ahead of finalising a new two-year inter-departmental plan.

Projects on the horizon for the islanders, who number under 110, will see the construction of 10 social houses and the erection of a community owned wind turbine.

Michael Cecil, of the Rathlin Development and Community Association (RDCA), said: "The population is steadily and slowing increasing. It's quite gradual, but it's certainly not in decline like it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"Things are looking brighter and we are seeing a lot more support from the Government and council coming through."

Mr Cecil highlighted broadband provision and support for social enterprises as other areas where more needed to be done. Last week he and other residents met Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy in one of two yearly engagements to discuss the roll out of the action plan.

"I fully support the Executive's policy to improve the conditions of all people on our only inhabited off-shore island while also protecting its natural and cultural heritage," Mr Kennedy said.

"Chairing the Minister's Forum meeting which monitors progress against the Rathlin Island Action Plan has given me the opportunity to see for myself the ongoing progress being made to improve conditions for islanders.

"I look forward to working with islanders and other interested parties on the review of the Rathlin Island Action Plan which I am pleased to see is nearing completion. Our joint efforts will help ensure the sustainability of island life and the promotion of a vibrant island community."

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