Some £1m has been allocated to rural communities in Northern Ireland to help tackle rural poverty and social isolation, the North’s Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has said.

The Minister said that the funding is for Rural Support Networks for this financial year to provide vital services to rural communities.

She said that she is committed to ensuring that the North’s rural communities continue to prosper and have access to basic services to make their lives better, the same basic services which are taken for granted in urban areas.

“My proposals for a Rural Proofing Bill have now been approved by the Executive, which will effectively compliment the massive opportunities which the new Rural Development Programme will create.

“The proposals will advance the cause of equitable treatment for rural dwellers by addressing their needs as an integral part of government policy,” Minister O’Neill said.

The Minister made the announcement during a trip to Fermanagh where she met with the Fermanagh Rural Community Network (FRCN) and heard directly from representatives of communities who have benefited from her Department’s Rural Community Development Support Programme which is funded through the Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) programme.

Show time

The Minister also recently visited the Clogher Valley Show, now in its ninety-seventh year.

She visited a number of the trade stands, viewed some of the livestock judging and also sampled some of the quality local produce on display in the popular Food Hall, which is supported by the Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme.

“I was delighted to attend the Clogher Valley Show, where I had the opportunity to meet with exhibitors and visitors as I viewed trade stands and livestock competitions.

“Our shows provide the farming community and the agri-food industry as a whole, with an opportunity to showcase the wide variety of animals and quality, locally produced food, to both rural and urban dwellers.”