Protest against funding cuts to Irish-language youth services will take place in Belfast
A PROTESt has been staged for Belfast city center next week in a fight against cuts to Irish-language youth services.
The rally comes after Glór na Móna, an Irish-speaking youth and community organization based in the Upper Springfield area, learned that its funding from the Education Authority was cut.
The organisation, which has received funding from EA since 2009, said the loss would have a ‘significant and disproportionate impact on frontline services for Irish-speaking young people, which would amount to the loss of jobs for young people across the industry and hundreds of face-to-face hours weekly.” dealing with the provision of youth work”.
Glór na Móna, which opens five nights a week and has 160 members, was told by EA that “funding will not continue from April 1 due to budget constraints.”
The move means 98% of the organisation’s youth projects funding, amounting to £86,000, will be cut.
A public meeting about the cuts took place outside Glor na Mona, which is based in Whiterock Close, on Thursday evening. A large number of people gathered to show their support and ask for the funding to be restored. On Tuesday, a protest will take place outside the Education Authority headquarters on Academy Street in Belfast at 3.30pm.
Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh, Director of Glór na Móna, said: “Thursday night’s massive crowd is proof that our community will not sit idly by while EA tries to decimate our supply of Irish-speaking youngsters.”
Mr Mac Ionnrachtaigh said the EA had told the organization they could now only apply for a maximum grant of £2,200 for electricity and ‘suggested we get volunteers to run the club “.
“To say this is outrageous and insulting is an understatement,” he said.
“The potential loss of five youth positions and the closure of Irish-language youth services in the area undermines the equality commitments in the Good Friday Agreement and the legal obligation of the Department for Education to encourage and facilitate education in the Irish language.”
Posting on Facebook, the Beechmount Residents Collective described the funding cut as “insufficient” adding that “we must do everything we can to ensure vital funding is restored for services at the youth centre.”
SDLP adviser Paul Doherty said the funding cuts were “not acceptable”.
“This youth club plays an important role in engaging with young people in West Belfast. We should be investing in services like this, not making cuts,” he said.
A spokeswoman for EA said: “Glór na Móna was previously funded through a legacy funding program which has been replaced under the Youth Priorities Policy.
“Glór na Móna will be able to apply for relevant funding under the new program.”