Lurgan Library cuts ‘will affect services’

Carnegie Library, Lurgan. INLM2611-501gc

Carnegie Library, Lurgan. INLM2611-501gc

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Four agency staff jobs in the three Craigavon libraries have been axed as fears grow for the future of local services.

Lurgan, Brownlow and Portadown libraries are the latest to face the lash of Stormont spending cuts and more is expected within months.

Three agency staff in Lurgan, two of which were also covering in Brownlow have been let go as has another agency staff member in Portadown.

It is understood while Lurgan Library is currently open until 8pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays - this will now be reduced to just Tuesday nights. NIPSA’s John McKeegan said it means the staff left will be firefighting to keep libraries open.

Libraries NI is laying off some temporary staff in order to save £1.4m (4.4%) of its budget within the next six months - before the end of the financial year.

It is understood 21 posts have already been identified and the dash for cash will also involve a review of agency cover staff and vacancies not being filled, as well as the prospect of reduced opening hours across all libraries.

In the meantime there will be temporary reductions in opening hours as there may not be enough staff to cover during times of illness.

Mr McKeegan said Libraries NI is looking to revise timetables and where staff could be redeployed.

The NIPSA Branch Secretary suggested that it could be that staff in Lurgan may have to cover in Brownlow and Portadown and vice versa.

“This could have a serious impact on services and be of detriment to library users. Not only that but it would cause a lot of stress to staff,” he said.

Libraries NI Chief Executive Irene Knox said: “I want to apologise to our customers and staff members in advance for any disruption. This situation is extremely difficult,” she added.