Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill praises Loughgiel community’s self help attitude

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has praised members of Loughgiel Community Association for their self help attitude towards meeting childcare needs in the local area.

Speaking at the official opening of the newly renovated and extended Loughgiel Childcare Facility, Minister O’Neill said that Loughgiel community Association, through its commitment to improving life in the local community and innovative approach, is making a valuable contribution towards building a thriving and sustainable community.

The Minister said: “Reliable and affordable childcare services are as essential in rural communities as in urban centres, yet in many rural areas availability does not meet local demand adequately. This project demonstrates how that can be changed whenever a local community sets about finding solutions to meet local needs. Social Economy Enterprises such as this demonstrate the suitability of this model for economic growth in rural areas and its potential as a key driver for economic recovery.

“Facilities at the Millennium Centre already bring many economic and social benefits to the area and brings people together in a way they hadn’t experienced previously. This extension will further add to this by providing jobs locally and enabling parents to work or pursue education and training. I commend the commitment and dedication of this community association to meeting local needs and I hope that other rural communities throughout the north of Ireland will follow their positive lead.”

The facility, funded by the NI Rural Development Programme is run as a social enterprise and provides playgroup and after-schools facilities.

Chair of North East Region (NER) Joint Council Committee, James Currie said: “NER are delighted to work alongside the DARD in providing Axis 3 funding for this essential rural community childcare facility. It will provide parents with the peace of mind that their children are safe and secure whilst they get themselves back into the workplace in these challenging economic times.’’

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 of Ireland.

Public consultation on the draft NI Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 was launched on 1 July 2013 and will remain open for 16 weeks, closing at 5pm on 21 October 2013. Details of the consultation can be found on the DARD website

Notes to editors:

1. Axis 3 of the NI Rural Development Programme is worth £100million and is delivered on DARD’s behalf by seven council clusters

2. The Axis 3 Rural Development Programme, Measure 3.4, funding for the Loughgiel Childcare Facility renovation is administered by North East Region (NER)

3. NER covers the rural areas of Coleraine, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Moyle and Larne and delivers funding under the following Measures:
(i) 3.1 – Farm Diversification(ii) 3.2 – Micro- Business(iii) 3.3 – Tourism(iv) 3.4 – Basic Services(v) 3.5 – Village Renewal(vi) 3.6 – Rural Heritage

4. NER has been allocated £13,181,300 under Axis 3 of the Rural Development Programme.

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