Opposition to focus on Agriculture, Rural Schools and Poverty

Tomorrow is an Opposition Day at Stormont with the UUP/SDLP parties deciding to focus on EU funding for the Agricultural Sector, Rural Schools and Poverty.

Here are the motions they are set to debate;

Motion: EU Funding for the Agricultural Sector

That this Assembly notes with concern the risks to multiple streams of funding posed by withdrawal from the European Union; further notes that over 70 per cent of all European funding to Northern Ireland falls under the Common Agricultural Policy and other rural funds, which provide approximately £350 million each year to farmers, representing 87 per cent of annual farm income; acknowledges that the agri-food sector accounts for 3.25 per cent of Northern Ireland’s Gross Value Added, which equates to £1.1 billion at basic prices and approximately 71,500 local jobs, and that existing strategies in these sectors, such as Going for Growth, make no provision for the withdrawal of European Union funding; and calls on the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to outline how she intends to uphold the First Minister’s commitment that farmers can be provided for as well as, if not better if Northern Ireland leaves the European Union, and to detail how she will develop a strategy to provide for and secure the long-term sustainability of the agricultural and agri-food sectors to ensure no loss of assistance to farmers arising from the withdrawal of existing European Union funding.

Mr P McGlone
Mr R McPhillips
Mr H McKee
Mr R Swann

Motion: Impact of Draft Strategic Area Plan on Rural Schools

That this Assembly, noting the failure of the attempt at area based planning for schools in the previous mandate, expresses its concern at the proposals contained in Providing Pathways the Draft Strategic Area Plan for School Provision 2017-2020; believes that schools in rural areas will be most at risk from the proposals; calls on the Minister of Education to detail what rural-proofing measures were undertaken during the development of the proposed Area Plan; and further calls on the Minister to introduce legislation for a statutory presumption against the closure of rural schools similar to the protections already in place in England and Scotland.

Mrs S Overend
Mr C McGrath
Mrs R Barton
Mr D McCrossan

Motion: Poverty and Deprivation

That this Assembly expresses its concern that according to the Department for Communities, around 376,000 or 21 per cent of people in Northern Ireland live in relative income poverty, before housing costs; notes that in June 2015 the High Court found that the Executive had breached a legal duty by failing to adopt an identifiable strategy setting out how it proposed to tackle poverty, social exclusion and patterns of deprivation based on objective need; further notes that the Programme for Government consultation document published in October 2016 refers to a new Social Strategy in relation to these matters; and calls on the Minister for Communities to publish an overarching strategy and long-term plan, including budget allocations, which outlines specific targets and timelines to reduce poverty and deprivation and tackle social exclusion and ensures the application of resources based on neutral criteria that measure deprivation, irrespective of community background or other affiliation.

Mr A Attwood
Mr A Allen
Ms N Mallon
Mr M Nesbitt

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