“a collective approach, rather than a role for any individual”

I was somewhat puzzled by the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew’s reference in her latest ministerial statement to “shaping the rural community’s future prosperity and quality of life through my role as Rural Champion” – “The role of Rural Champion has been developed to highlight the functions and responsibilities of everyone involved in the countryside.” Which makes it sound like a new public appointment, a “Rural Tsar” as it were, or a “Rural Commissioner”, separate from her actual position as a NI Executive Minister. In fact, the consultation document [available here], and launched on 13 August 2008, refers to it more accurately as a “concept” as part of a review of policy making.

2.3 Therefore to ensure that rural issues are considered in all Executive policy making, the concept of a Rural Champion has been developed. DARD sees this developing as a collective approach, rather than a role for any individual. This approach is not to avoid personal responsibility but rather to identify distinct roles that people and organisations in all levels of governance and society can play in developing rural policy.

Still, “Champion” sounds better than “Tsar”.. although it is a work in progress. Maybe we should have an Education Champion too? And a Health Champion? Other related consultation documents here.

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  • Obsessed


    you need help.

  • fin

    oh dear, the SDLP hatchet piece below was faring badly so lets rush out another Sinn Fein bashing piece, rats no call from my sources on the contents of Gerry’s sandwiches today.

    This blog should be considered alongside Alasdairs rubbish below, is there any reason to criticise this press release, no, however I don’t like the Party so I do some grammatical somersaults and conjure up some old bollox just to not agree with it.

    I suppose she may have considered been a ‘rural evangalist’ but was aware of the moistness it would create in sertain places among certain individuals.

  • Gertntfe

    Meanwhile back at the story…….

    Fascists just love their uniforms but if they can’t get away with the military look for daywear what better than a fancy title?

    Hail the Champion!

  • alan56

    Is it just me or is Slugger heading south?

  • exile

    [i]Meanwhile back at the story….[/i]

    Sorry, where exactly is the story here?

  • Are these superministerial titles a SF fetish or do other ministers adopt them too? Conor Murphy is the rather more modest ‘Minister for Rathlin’ as distinct from ‘Islands Champion’.

  • Trev

    Is that Rathlin Gauleiter?

  • The Raven

    Does everything HAVE to be a story…? Can it not be a reflection of the hubris that these individuals seem to develop over time? Kinda reminds me of when they say “my officials”, when actually, they’re mine. And yours.

    Pete is correct to highlight this. The role of Rural Champion has been knocking around for some time. And indeed, it was always the Department, rather than the Minister that was meant to fill that role.

    The objectives as listed on the DARD page noted above are evidence of that. Rural-proofing is meant to seep down into every aspect of local and regional goverment work – not just when the Ministers decide to gather in a room.

    The issues facing the rural community are huge, as those of us working in this sector knows. I’d be very disappointed if, what is actually quite an important role, ends up being distilled into some personal self-marketing.