Thursday, January 12, 2017

Murphy calls for Minister Zappone to intervene over closure of Phoenix Centre in Ballaghaderreen

*Funding withdrawn from Youth Work Ireland projects which catered for over 500 young people per week*

Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy has called on the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone to immediately make a statement in relation to the closure of the Phoenix Youth Centre in Ballaghaderreen which was a vital service for the area with upwards of 500 young people using the centre on a weekly basis.

Deputy Murphy said he was alarmed by the decision of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Justice to withdraw funding for  Youth work Ireland North East Galway in respect a special youth project in Ballaghaderreen and their youth information centre funding. The Fianna Fáil TD said that the funding had been withdrawn without any real warning and the organisation had been left in freefall with very little assistance from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

“The Phoenix Centre in Ballaghaderreen is a vital service and was extremely popular with 120 young people using the service on a daily basis which is over 500 people per week going through the doors. The youth information services project was funding by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs while the Department of Justice also funded a Youth Diversion Project and both strands of funding were withdrawn. I understand that the City of Dublin Youth Services Board (CDYSB) carried out a review of Youth Work Ireland Roscommon North East Galway in 2015. They produced two reports recommending a series of changes under two headings, Finance & Governance and Service Provision. A number of recommendations were made and a number of issues had been addressed while the organisation was making progress on a number of other recommendations but despite the progress which was being made the Department pulled the plug on funding leaving the Phoenix Centre unable to open its doors in January and I understand it is now closed. I believe getting an urban based Dublin board to carry out a review is another deliberate attempt by Government to run down services in rural Ireland and this is devastating news for the hundreds of young people in the area who relied on the centre,” said Deputy Murphy.

The Fianna Fáil TD said he had already been in touch with the Minister’s office in relation to the matter had had received the following reply. “I raised this matter with the Minister’ office as soon as I became aware of the situation and this is the reply which I received: ‘The Department of Children and Youth Affairs authorised the decision to permanently cease funding to Ballaghederreen Special Project for Youth and to the Roscommon Youth Information Centre on foot of advices from officials within the Department. The decision was informed in part by the findings of a Service Review and of the Finance and Governance Review conducted by City of Dublin Youth Service Board. 

‘The primary rationale for the permanent cessation of funding was that the Department had received no assurances that youth services being provided by Youth Work Ireland Roscommon Galway North East were to a level that met the needs of young people in the region. Nor was the Department provided with any assurances as to the organisation’s capacity to support, operate and manage the provision of quality youth services and to make good use of Government funding for these purposes.’

Deputy Murphy said that he was not satisfied with this response and he was now seeking urgent clarification and a statement on the matter from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone.

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