Print FriendlyPrint This Article

Funding for national, youth organizations

Jillian van Tournhout (ind, Taoiseach nominee) raised, on the adjournment of the Seanad, funding for voluntary organizations under the national scheme of funding for voluntary organizations (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 18th February 2014, 886-8).  In particular, she raised the €90,000 cap on funding under the scheme and the announcement in mid-February of a funding cut of 12% to those organizations funded under the 2011-2013 scheme now concluding and which will run to June.  Some of them now have to make drastic decisions on staff, projects and activities and they still did not know what would happen to them after that.  Their funding had already fallen more than 50% across the board since 2008.  The manner in which this had been handled was extremely unfair to them.  


Responding, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan told her that he had been able to bring forward a new funding programme even in the context of the difficulties in the public finances.  As a consequence of the reduction in his department’s vote in 2014, he had been obliged to reduce funding and resolved to protect frontline services.  During summer and autumn, his department had carried out a review of the scheme which confirmed that it had fulfilled its purpose and accordingly the new scheme would fulfill a broadly similar approach.  He added that he was not satisfied that some of the existing organizations were best served by the type of support that they were receiving or whether some should get that support from other government departments.   The closing date was 19th February.  He himself had applied the cap of €90,000: he was anxious that all organizations be treated fairly, meet the criteria and that ‘schemes and organizations that should be funded by other departments or agencies should be looked at and I am prepared to do that’.


Kathryn Reilly (SF, industrial & commercial) raised the funding of youth services (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 20th February 2014, 1051-3).  She spoke of the threatened closure of the Kilbarrack youth project, despite its contribution to having made the place a more settled area and provided services for between 70 and 90 young people a week.  Youth groups felt that the government was culling them.  Earlier that week, the Minister for Finance had spoken of how youth unemployment was the wind behind extremism in Europe – but investment in youth services helped them engage with society.


Replying the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Fergus O’Dowd, told her that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs was very conscious of the benefits of youth work, for which funding of €50.53m would be provided in 2014.  Her department was obliged to make significant savings on schemes and services, but had secured an extra €1m which meant that she coud scale back the reductions from 5% – 10% proposed to 3.75%. Detailed notifications had been issued: the minister was aware of the challenges and would continue to meet representatives of youth organizations to discuss the most efficient use of resources available.

> Funding Foroige Big Brother Big Sister programme: Dail Eireann, Debates, 26th February 2014, 662.