Youth services earmarked for closure given second chance to apply for funding

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By Maria McCann

Youth clubs that were denied vital funding have been given a second chance to apply.

The Education Authority has now given clubs another opportunity to get their hands on the vital funds.

EA Chief Executive, Gavin Boyd said; “EA does not yet have a budget for 2017/18. However, we received a cash allocation from DE in March 2017 which allows us to spend up until 31 July 2017.

On that basis, we made funding available for the Extended Youth Provision Scheme. There has been no reduction in funding for this period.

"This scheme seeks to increase access to youth clubs and services for young people in areas of disadvantage on or near interfaces."

It is additional funding to support late night and weekend opening and is targeted at some of the most deprived areas.

In a statement the EA said "13 were not approved as they did not meet the criteria, or did not demonstrate that they could meet the objectives of the scheme."

"We are very aware of the needs of young people in the communities to which this scheme is directed. As some of the funding has not been allocated, we will now open the process up to a second round of applications."

"EA recognises the valuable work of youth organisations and the positive impact they have in their local communities. We will continue to work with all youth providers to ensure that vital services can be maintained.”

Meanwhile, a protest is due to be held outside the Education Authority office in Belfast over cuts to Irish language services.

Youth clubs including four that use the medium of Irish were earmarked for closure as part of the EA cuts.

The Irish Language clubs thought to be facing closure are:

  • Cumann Óige Uachtar Chluanaí in Upper Springfield, west Belfast
     
  • Club Óige na bhFál on the Falls Road, west Belfast
     
  • Cumann Óige Ghlór an Ghleanna in Andersonstown, west Belfast
     
  • Club Óige Mhachaire Bótháin in Oldpark, north Belfast

The EA is reportedly planning to review submissions.

Campaigner Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhein said it amplifies their call for an official Irish Language Act.

"This is directly related to the campaign for recognition, rights and respect for the Irish Language community.

"Decisions like this happen in the absence of legislation protection. Civil servants assume they can make decisions like this without consequences.

"We will demand answers".

Sinn Fein's Pat Sheehan called on people to take part in today's protest at the Education Authority on Academy Street at 3.30pm.

"This protest has been organised in response to the denial of funding to Irish Medium youth providers.

"This is another attack on the Irish language and proves once again the need for an Irish language act.

"Sinn Féin supports tomorrow's action organised by Glór na Móna outside the Education Authority on Academy Street protesting against the cuts.

"The Irish language threatens no one and is for everyone in our society."

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