“IN tough times it is great to see the huge energy here in Portlaoise”.
So said Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald TD, who officially launch the Portlaoise Youth Cafe.
Speaking to the Leinster Express she said that it was important to recognise the value of young people.
“We have to start seeing young people as a resource, they are a fantastic economic resource. We have to give kids opportunity. We are lucky to have a very high birth rate here in Ireland and we should invest in our young people. The returns are huge for the economy,” she said.
The Minister added that by investing in young people, they would then do better in school and in employment. Speaking at the launch, she praised all involved, giving mention to Youth Cafe manager Joe Thompson for his enthusiasm.
“By providing these youth spaces we are reaching out to young people and giving them opportunity. There are over 1 million young people in Ireland. Other countries don’t have that,” she said.
In her address at the launch the Minister said it was important to invest in young people.
“We have to invest in you...We have to have more and more spaces and we need more money from the Government. I’ll be relying on Charlie (Flanagan TD) and all the councillors to get the message across. We must invest in facilities like this,” she said.
The Minister also told the group that as part of Ireland’s EU presidency, there will be a big conference this March to showcase the youth work done in Ireland.
“This is what we must support, and we need you to spread the word. This Youth Cafe is a model that can be copied all over the country. I am delighted to see the art on the walls, the music, the photography, the opportunity for drama here”.
She quoted the 22.3% unemployment rate in young people at the moment and emphasised that the more opportunities young people have, the less likely they are to go into unemployment.
“Youth work ensures that we break the cycle of unemployment. This is a great space and potential. I wasnt to thank everybody for their committment and energy and I am very honoured to officially launch the Youth Cafe”.