Restoration of Glór na Móna youth funding supplemented with additional hours through the extended provisions funding by the Education Authority.
The Irish language community have received further recognition and endorsement for their efforts in recent weeks with the announcement that the Education Authority has provided additional funding for Glór na Móna under their extended Provisions scheme. The media had followed the story closely in recent weeks of how the EA removed funding for Irish medium youth clubs in Belfast by refusing Glór na Móna for the extended provisions scheme at the end of March, thus threatening the loss of four jobs and the immediate closure of 4 youth clubs in Belfast.
However, following a very powerful and vocal campaign that mobilised hundreds of parents and young people at public meetings and public protests at EA offices, the Chief Executive of the Education authority Gavin Boyd met with Glór na Móna. During those meetings, he agreed to immediately restore the funding for Irish medium youth services in Belfast by providing core regional funding for Glór na Móna to oversee this work.
In the midst of the youth funding crisis, the EA reopened the Extended Provisions for all those groups who had been initially refused. Glór na Móna, like many other groups successfully applied to this reopened scheme to widen the scope of their work in order that they could provide additional hours and weekend programmes.
Glór na Móna youth worker, Conchur Ó Muadaigh, whose post was restored following the original campaign stated;
‘This funding increase is a huge boast for Glór na Móna and Irish medium youth work across Belfast. We went from a disastrous situation where we had 65 hours of front-line practice youth work hours removed from the local community overnight, to having these hours returned after our protest action, and onto our current situation where we will be increasing our provision by 45 hours a week and advertising for 4 new part-time posts in the coming weeks.
‘These additional hours will enable us to open at weekends and increase the scope and scale of our work for the benefit of our young people. We were always confident in our work but our campaign proved the widespread support we had in the community who rallied on our behalf. This increase in funding is due in no small part to people pressure from below. This proves, yet again, that public lobbying can and does affect change. One such example of people’s commitment and generosity was our Crowd Funder that we announced at our public meeting in Coláiste Feirste which drew support from far and wide. This raised 5k which will allow us to employ Gerard McGuinness, who spoke so passionately at the public meeting, for an additional ten hours a week over the next year.
Speaking about this victory, Glór na Móna youth worker, Gerard McGuinness stated;
I’m totally overwhelmed at the support we received amongst those who recognise how important this service is to our young people. I would like to personally thank all those who donated to the crowd funding campaign for giving me the opportunity to continue this work with our young people who deserve nothing but the best youth service possible.
Glór na Móna Director, Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh added;
‘We welcome this additional funding allocation from the EA which will allow us to considerably increase the provision of frontline youth services for the burgeoning Irish language community in the months ahead. We take this as a further positive step that endorses our valuable work and recognises its unique contribution to the wider youth service in Belfast and beyond. We hope to continue to meaningfully engage with Mr Boyd, and his officials to ensure that a sustained, mainstreamed and resourced Irish medium education youth service is available?which reflects the increasing demand and which gives practical effect to its statutory duty to encourage and facilitate Irish medium education. This welcome increase in funding is an encouraging step towards securing a more strategic, coherent and long-term approach to Irish Medium youth provision.’