A new Executive policy to protect the way of life on Rathlin Island while promoting its viability and sustainability was unveiled today.
Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy said during a visit to the island that it marked a new way forward for the community on Rathlin.
"As our only off-shore inhabited island in the North of Ireland, we have developed in partnership with the islanders, a central government policy which recognises and sets out to address the unique challenges experienced by island life.
"This new policy protects the island's heritage and way of life yet promotes its viability and sustainability now and for the future," said the minister.
He said he was fully committed to ensuring the Executive delivered balanced regional development and addressed regional disparities by providing infrastructure and resources which helped build and regenerate the local economy, improve accessibility and promote social inclusion.
The Rathlin policy aimed to improve the provision of public services, enhance community participation and active citizenship while ensuring the island's sustainability for the future and conserving its exceptional environmental heritage and way of life, he said.
"This policy will now allow the Executive to proactively respond to the needs of the islanders on issues around public transport and roads infrastructure, health and social care, education and schooling, agriculture, community development, tourism and economic development," said Mr Murphy.
He said he knew the new enhanced ferry service and additional resources for roads provided so far had been welcomed on the island.
His announcement at the official opening of the island's new community resource centre marked the start of a public consultation process, he said, and he welcomed comments from the public.