DARD Minister offers funding advice to community groups

April 18, 2016

Representatives from a number of community groups in south Armagh met with the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill during her visit to the area on Tuesday last, to discuss funding opportunities for various community projects.

The meeting was facilitated by local MLA Megan Fearon who said the event was an excellent opportunity for groups to find out if they actually qualify for funding and to receive advice on how to access it.

Members of the Forkhill Area Development Association (FADA) discussed progress on their current process of redeveloping land in the village once occupied by the British Army barracks.  Speaking to FADA members Minister O’Neill revealed that there would be further funding available for the redevelopment and reaffirmed Sinn Féin’s commitment to the project.

The Minister also attended a public meeting in Ti Chulainn, Mullaghbawn where local community, voluntary and sporting groups were invited to come along and quiz her on Rural Development and TRPSI (Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Inclusion) funding.

Addressing those gathered, she urged all groups to avail of the funding: “The Rural Development funding is wide ranging in where it can be applied so you might be surprised as to what projects can qualify.  We have managed to deliver the largest ever Rural Development Programme in the north this time around so I would urge groups to take advantage of that,” she said.

“However, due to the success of the programme, competition for funding is fierce so I would urge groups applying for funding to put the best possible application forward.  Be smart, be creative and make sure there is nothing missing from your application that could get it delayed. In particular I would encourage you to attend the Council run workshops on how to fill out these applications, which will be happening in May, June and July.”

Megan Fearon thanked the Minister for attending and pointed out the benefits of rural development funding already felt in south Armagh: “While we have had some tremendous success stories in this area because of Rural Development funding, such as the Culloville Community Centre, which, since opening, has become a thriving hub of activity and the real heartbeat of the village, there remains a lot of confusion over how to access this money,” she said.

“Groups, particularly smaller ones, either don’t know how to access it, don’t know if they qualify or can find the entire process too intimidating to tackle.  Events like this, where the Minister is able to come here and meet people and speak to them one on one and say ‘yes, your project could get funding,’ make all the difference.  It lets people know these things are achievable, even for small, rural groups.”