'Paltry' funding means 'shabby' treatment of Laois young people - TD claims

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

Launch of Youth Work Ireland plan Laois .

Launch of Youth Work Ireland plan Laois .

Laois has one of the youngest populations in Ireland with a quarter of the county aged 14 or under but the money does not appear to be following the change according to figures obtained by Laois TD.

Sinn Féin TD for Laois Brian Stanley is asking the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, to provide additional funding to Laois Youth Services.

“Laois Youth Services received one of the lowest allocations of funding in the entire Country in 2017. In reply to my recent Dáil Question the Minister informed me that a total of €57.4 million was provided to support the provision of youth services this year and out of this Laois received just €86,803 under the Special Projects for Youth Scheme.  This represents a paltry 0.15% of total funds allocated and once again Laois has been treated shabbily," he said.

 

The TD said that separate to this, all 16 Educational and Training Boards (ETB) including Laois and Offaly ETB were invited to nominate locations within their catchment areas for the establishment of new services or to augment an existing service.

He claimed an additional €800,000 was approved for this fund and 28 applications were received. Out of these the Minister approved the establishment of nine new targeted youth services and the expansion of a further seven, yet once again Laois was unsuccessful.

"Laois has a rapidly growing youth population with 24.6% under the age of 14, the highest in the state. The County also had the fastest population growth in the country of 26.3% between 2006 and 2016.  Youth Work Ireland Laois launched their Strategic Plan 2017-2019 just two weeks ago.

"If they are to be in a position to implement this plan and provide essential services to the young people of Laois, then the Government needs to step up to the mark and provide Laois with its fair share of funding for youth services,” he said.

Minister Zappone said her Department is committed to working with Laois and Offaly ETB to identify need and explore ways to address this need where it emerges.

Dáil QUESTION for Department: Children and Youth Affairs 17/10/2017

To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason funding for Youth Work Ireland in County Laois is lower than the national average. - Brian Stanley

REPLY

In 2017, €57.4 m was allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services, an increase of €5.5m on 2016. I have enhanced this by a further €1.5m in 2018.  Laois Youth Services received €86,803 funding in 2017 under the Special Projects for Youth scheme.

Earlier this year, I approved funding of €800,000 for the establishment of new youth projects and for the augmentation of a small number of existing youth services to meet new challenges arising from population increases. This additional investment is being provided in regions of the country where there is a pressing need for services to meet the needs of young people. 

Each of the sixteen Education and Training Boards, including Laois and Offaly ETB, was invited to nominate locations within their catchment areas for the establishment of new services and to nominate a project or service to be considered for augmentation. In total twenty-eight applications for new services were received, including an application for a new service for Laois.

Based on the recommendations of a specially convened appraisal committee, and given the very limited resources available for the scheme, I approved the establishment of nine new targeted youth services and the expansion of a further seven to respond to new demand.  The application in respect of Laois was, unfortunately, not successful on this occasion. 

The Department has worked with Pobal and each Education and Training Board (ETB) Youth Officer, to map youth service provision across the State. This mapping exercise will assist the Department and the relevant ETB in developing a detailed social demographic profile in terms of both population numbers and deprivation levels.

This exercise is due to be published soon and will inform future development and investment in youth services. My Department is committed to working with Laois and Offaly ETB to identify need and explore ways to address this need where it emerges.

Deputies will be aware that my Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff  working in youth services and communities throughout the country.