At 10.00am on Saturday 6th June, people from across Northern Ireland are invited to meet at the front gates of Stormont to begin a four mile walk to help significantly improve access to clean water for families in developing countries.  Organised by the Christian development charity, Samaritan’s Purse, it may only be a local walk but the impact will be global, and it is open to all to take part.

The sponsored walk is raising funds to support the Turn on the Tap campaign, which provides individuals, churches, schools and community groups with the opportunity to directly impact the lives of families living without access to clean water in five countries across Africa.

The walk is also part of a much bigger event, the Global Walk for Water, which aims to see thousands of people across the globe, walking one million miles and raising one million pounds in the UK alone to provide access to clean water and improved sanitation for families in the developing world.

Linda Thompson, Regional Manager for Samaritan’s Purse explains:

“We need as many people as possible to take part because the reality is that over one billion people around the world currently live without access to clean drinking water. They often have to walk several miles daily for water that is likely to be dirty, unhygienic and will probably carry life-threatening diseases.”

“By coming together at Stormont, we want to help eradicate this situation by asking local people – of all ages – to walk four miles and make a small donation of just £4 so we can help change this reality for families in Africa.”

People from across Northern Ireland are invited to join in the walk, helping to make clean water dreams come true for people who currently live without this necessity of life.

For further information on joining the walk, please contact Linda Thompson by email linda.thompson@samaritans-purse.org.uk  or telephone 07920 825 755.

The newly-built South Tyrone East Fermanagh workspace development in Clabby, can help to stimulate economic growth in the local area.

That was the message from Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, when she officially opened the 10,109 square foot workspace at Clabby Enterprise Park, today.

The Minister said: “The creation of six new workspace units here at Clabby Enterprise Park has the potential to create up to 36 jobs. It can also help encourage local entrepreneurship and stimulate economic growth in the local area.

“This development will provide much needed regeneration within the local community, helping to address the social and economic disadvantages experienced in Fermanagh and South Tyrone in recent years.”

Arlene Foster believes the continued growth and success of local businesses must be encouraged, particularly in these recessionary times. She said: “I believe a key to maintaining a sustainable future for Northern Ireland is encouraging the growth of local businesses. Workspace developments, such as Clabby Enterprise Park, provide people with the facilities they need to start a business or grow an existing business.

“While there is no easy fix to the global economic downturn and the measures being taken will take time to have an effect, it is essential that Northern Ireland businesses position themselves effectively to take advantage of the upturn when it occurs.”

The workspace development at Clabby is one of over 40 projects across Northern Ireland, set up to create new jobs in deprived areas, by providing flexible workspace units for new and expanding businesses.
It was developed by Fivemiletown Community Development Association (FCDA) at a total cost of £822,057,

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) provided support to the project with EU Peace and Reconciliation (Peace II) assistance of £442,107. Funding was also secured from the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), Fermanagh District Council, Dungannon and South Tyrone District Council, and Ulster Community Investment Trust Ltd (UCIT). ,

Anne Henderson, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “I am delighted to be here at the opening of Clabby Enterprise Park. I would like to praise Fivemiletown Community Development Association Ltd for their dedication in bringing this project to fruition, despite the many challenges which they faced.

“The International Fund for Ireland is very happy to support such projects which create the conditions where businesses can flourish and grow. Clabby Enterprise Park will provide services that will no doubt contribute to the growth of the local economy and play an important role in the long term prosperity of the area.”

Speaking at the ceremony, FCDA board member, Wilfred Anderson said: “We are very grateful for such generous support from our funding bodies, which has resulted in this outstanding facility that will increase the employment opportunities within the Clabby area.”

Cross Border Digital Learning Network launched
-Simultaneous launch in Belfast, Omagh, and Donegal-

Tyrone Donegal Partnership, a leading cross-border development company, today launched an innovative video conferencing initiative called CORE Digital Network. The launch took place simultaneously in three locations – Belfast, Omagh and Kilcar, Co. Donegal. Each venue was linked by the video conferencing technology which is used in the project. The project is jointly funded by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), which has contributed €485,450, and Tyrone Donegal Partnership, which has contributed €48,545.

CORE Digital Network will involve the extension of the World Bank Global Development Learning Network, available on a cross-border basis in Omagh, to five community learning centres in Donegal. The Video Conference Suites will be based in Ballyshannon, Clonmany, Dungloe, Kilcar and St. Johnston.

The Network will provide local access to a wide range of courses covering subjects such as conflict management/resolution, citizenship, personal development, diversity awareness, peace and reconciliation, and community development. The three-year project will further help to overcome three of the main barriers to education and development in rural border areas – the border itself, travel distance and lack of critical mass to run and support programmes in rural areas.
Speaking at the launch in Belfast, Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said, ‘The IFI identifies strongly with this project, as we recognise that reconciliation thrives when driven from the grass-roots, and that access to education is crucial for sustainable confidence and capacity-building in the community. Education is not just an end in itself. It is also the foundation upon which a secure, more peaceful, future can be built. The Fund has had a successful relationship with Tyrone Donegal Partnership for many years, particularly through our Wider Horizons programme. The CORE Digital Network is one of many examples of the contribution this organisation has made to embedding good relations in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic.’

Speaking at the launch in Kilcar, An Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, T.D., said, “Being a native of Donegal, I recognise the immense difference this project will make to education provision in Donegal. By locating the centres for learning throughout Donegal, the Tyrone/Donegal Partnership has ensured that students from even the most remote parts of the county can participate in the learning experience offered at the selected centres. Not only that, they can also interact with their counterparts in the other centres in Donegal, Omagh, and Belfast. In theory, it certainly does make our vast county a smaller place!”

Speaking at the launch in Omagh, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA said, “After seeing the video conferencing products first hand at the CORE Digital Network event, I was very impressed with the potential opportunities offered. Today’s event demonstrated how technology can advance the economic, educational, social and cultural capacity of rural community groups within the area to connect with each other. I believe this is a great way to reach our rural communities and as technologies evolve it also provides new ways to develop partnerships and address issues such as social exclusion and isolation.”

Gareth Boyle, Core Digital Network Manager commented, “We are excited to be engaging rural communities in Donegal through the use of video conferencing technology to promote knowledge transfer and enrich skills in their own towns and villages. Rural people in their own communities are constrained by financial and time pressures, commitments to family and jobs, and responsibilities to the operation of their family farm or business. By empowering rural communities with access to education, knowledge, and new partnerships without actually leaving their own town, Core Digital Network will ultimately translate into more economically-sustainable communities across Tyrone and Donegal.”

Over 100 rural women attended an information event organised by Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network (NIRWN) on Monday 30th March in Loughry College, Cookstown.  The event focussed on the potential opportunities for funding under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013.

Those in attendance were given an overview of the funding themes, and the various options open to them.

Opening the conference Michelle Gildernew MP MLA said: “In my role as Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, I am continually inspired by the ordinary women I meet doing extraordinary things, juggling multiple roles as mothers, wives, carers, farmers and entrepreneurs. The vital contribution that rural women make to society is seldom recognised.

Today’s conference provides a valuable opportunity at an ideal time, the outset of the Rural Development Programme, to encourage women to make the most of the openings available. The new Programme offers opportunities for women at a range of levels whether starting a business or looking for ways to provide and improve much needed services in their local communities. Whatever the chosen role, we can contribute to improving the quality of life for all rural dwellers.”

Over 100 million pounds has been allocated under RDP specifically to strengthen local economies and communities for rural dwellers.  The funding is delivered through the 7 Local Action Groups (LAGS), made up of representatives from businesses, public agencies, local community bodies and local Councillors.  Each of the 7 LAGs were represented at the event.

Mary Duggan Chairperson of NIRWN and LAG member with South West Action for Rural Development (SWARD) commented: ‘We very much hope that today’s event will provide women and women’s groups with information and contacts, to empower them to access the funding under RDP.  Traditionally rural women have not accessed RDP funding in the past.  We are delighted with the interest and turn out, and hope that rural women can take advantage of the funding available’.

Speakers will also included rural women who have established local businesses, Invest NI and Rural Network for Northern Ireland.   Information stands with from Department of Agricultural and Rural Development (DARD), the 7 LAGS, Invest NI, Ulster Community Investment Trust, as well as a number of others.

Feedback from the participants was very positive.  On leaving the event one rural woman commented: “This is exactly the type of event we need as rural women.  I have had a business idea for using some of our old farm buildings for a lifetime and up until today I really had no idea that there was so much support out there.  I really feel very excited by the prospect of delving deeper into the Rural Development Programme to see exactly how I can benefit from this funding and in turn benefit my family by generating a little more income to the household.”

Nora Smith, Policy Officer with NIRWN said: “It is fantastic to see so much interest by rural women in the Rural Development Programme.  We, as an organisation set up to support the voices of rural women, felt that this was an opportunity for women to hear about this programme, to hear how other women have benefited from the previous funding and to share with them all the possible support mechanisms already in place to make the RDP more accessible to them.  It was a great success and hopefully it will lead to more rural women making applications to their Local Action Group for funding.”

Further information on the Rural Development Programme and the assistance available can be found on a new dedicated website www.rdpni.info or by calling 0845 3044 509 to request an information pack.

The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

April 2009
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