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DARD Direct proving a real success - O'Neill

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill today said that the growing network of DARD Direct offices across the north was enhancing front line services to farmers.
Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Minister was speaking as she officially opened the newly refurbished DARD Direct office in Magherafelt. The office in Meadowlane Shopping Centre is the latest addition to the DARD Direct network of one-stop-shops for DARD’s customers. DARD Direct offers farmers the opportunity to access the Department’s farm business services in one place and provides a choice of how business is conducted.

Speaking during her visit the Minister said: “The delivery of the DARD Direct project in Meadowlane has involved a lot of hard work for staff, especially those on the front line delivering our services. Through DARD Direct we are focusing on how best to meet the needs of our customers in an ever changing and challenging business environment.”

The Minister added: “DARD Direct offers customers greater choice in how they do business with us. From calling in person or by telephone, through to postal or electronic delivery by email and on-line services, all options are provided for. I am confident that DARD Direct is delivering, and will continue to deliver, real benefits for farmers and rural dwellers across the north.”

In early 2009, Minister O’ Neill’s predecessor announced a network of 12 DARD Direct Offices across the north. The refurbishment of offices in Enniskillen, Coleraine, Dungannon, Newry, Downpatrick and Mallusk has already been completed and the refurbishment of Meadowlane means there are now seven fully functioning DARD Direct offices. A further two offices are planned for early next year in Armagh and Omagh.

During the opening the Minister also spoke about the ongoing review of the accommodation needs of staff in DARD’s Headquarters in Belfast. She said: “The fact that DARD Headquarters building Dundonald House in Belfast is now reaching the end of its useful life, offers a real opportunity to relocate public sector jobs to a rural area. This relocation programme represents an important first step to pave the way for further enhancement of the economic and social development of rural communities.”

Notes to editors:

  1. DARD Direct Magherafelt is located at the new offices at:

  2. Units 36 – 38
    Meadowlane Shopping Centre
    Moneymore Road
    Magherafelt
    Co Derry
    BT45 6PR
  3. The DARD office, Magherafelt was previously located at Station Road, Magherafelt with a sub office also located in Maghera. The opening of the new office at Meadowlane has allowed the full range of DARD customer services to be provided from a single location. With this the offices at both Station Road, Magherafelt and Maghera closed for business in early July 2011 in line with the opening of the new office at Meadowlane.
  4. The DARD Strategic Plan (2006-2011) highlighted that delivering services effectively to customers was one of the Department’s strategic goals.
  5. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: pressoffice.group@dardni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.