Belfast Telegraph

O’Neill tests her sweet tooth

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Helping to create rural micro-business in the rural parts of the north and encouraging the Social Economy sector are essential components of the Rural Development Programme.

That was the message from Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill as she visited the Chocolate Memories social economy chocolate production facility in Moneyreagh.

The Minister said: “A key aim of the Rural Development Programme is to create employment opportunities in rural areas by providing Axis 3 assistance to micro-businesses in both the Private and Social Economy sectors. This facility is an excellent example of the valuable contribution the social economy sector makes to rural business generation and to provision of rural job opportunities. It also provides essential skills development to rural dwellers with Autism.’’

After meeting with the trainee chocolatiers, the Minister was given a demonstration of the skills required to produce quality artisan chocolates and then tried her hand at making her own unique chocolate design. Afterwards the Minister said: “This has been a fantastic experience for me and I am proud that the Rural Development Programme has been pivotal in creating this excellent facility which, I hope will continue with its invaluable work for many years to come.’’

Cllr Anne Marie Beattie, Chairman of Lagan Rural Partnership's Joint Council Committee said: “This project is one of the most unique projects that our Partnership has funded given the significant social benefit that has been realised by this venture coupled with its success as a proven social economy business.”

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 3.2, Business Creation and Development provided funding for the Chocolate Memories facility and was administered by Lagan Rural Partnership (LRP).

3. LRP covers the rural areas of Belfast, Castlereagh and Lisburn and administers funding under the following Measures:

(i) 3.1 – Farm Diversification.
(ii) 3.2 – Micro- Business Development.
(iii) 3.3 – Tourism.
(iv) 3.4 – Basic Services.
(v) 3.5 – Village Renewal.
(vi) 3.6 – Rural Heritage.

4. LRP has been allocated £8.6million under Axis 3 of the Rural Development Programme.

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