Teenagers in Kilwilkie are calling on the education authorities to help save Clann Eireann Youth Club which is under threat due to funding cuts.
Last weekend the club got a reprieve for just one month after a ‘bridging loan’ was issued by the Southern Education and Library Board.
A 17-year-old St Michael’s student, Naoise McSherry, led a campaign which lobbied local politicians and started a petition to help save the club. A member of the club for three years Naoise says without it she would not have achieved her eight GCSEs.
“Kilwilkie has a bad name for its youth. Our youth club takes young people off the streets to help prevent disruption in the local community. They also prevent young people from taking alcohol and drugs. While bricks and stones were thrown at the police recently Clann Eireann had our age group away on a trip. It would be a great loss to the community if our youth club was to close and not offer what they do. It would bring our estate down and more young people may cause disruption,” said Naoise, who praised the hard work and support from the youth leaders.
“My youth leaders will be left without a job but we will be left without a second home,” she said. Naoise said the youth club was the one thing that meant most to the teenagers. It keeps us out of trouble and helps us make a future for ourselves. We just need the funding to stay open and our local parties are no help and refuse to listen.”
Youth Leader Louise Henderson explained that SELB funding runs out today (Wednesday), however, the club had received assurances that they would be funded for the next month.
Because of the amalgamation of the education and library boards into the new Education Authority this week there appears to have been a gap in meetings to ratify budgets which has had a knock on effect on front line services.
Concern has also been voiced that funding to the boards from the Department of Education was late also, though no one from the Department responded to queries from the ‘MAIL’.
There is concern also that while the club may receive some funding for the next year, cuts to the Extended Provision Scheme which accounts for weekend and evening club may be cut.
An SELB spokesman said the new EA has received from the Department of Education (DE) the Youth Service, however, it remains to be apportioned across the EA regions and will require ratification. “A service level agreement has been submitted from Clann Eireann YC and grant-aid for core programmes will be forthcoming once Budget details have been ratified by EA. The management committee of the Club previously received additional funding from the SELB through the Extended Provision Scheme of Assistance 2014/15. Once the Budget has been ratified by EA, the Extended Provision Scheme for 2015/16 will be released.”