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A call to end buck-passing and safeguard Youth Service

JANUARY 21, 2020

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland must intervene to end buck-passing and safeguard Youth Service jobs

Unite Regional Secretary writes to James Brokenshire MP to request intervention to secure future of youth service jobs

More than one hundred youth workers face redundancy from beginning of April 2017

In the absence of the Northern Ireland Executive agreeing a budget, Unite the union’s Regional Secretary for Ireland, Jimmy Kelly, has written to Secretary of State, James Brokenshire MP, to ask he intervene to save more than one hundred Youth Work jobs. Mr Kelly commented:

“As a result of the current political impasse and failure to agree a budget, over 100 youth workers across the voluntary and statutory sectors face redundancy from the beginning of April 2017.

“Some of these have been working on fixed-term contracts for as many as seventeen years and face redundancy because no Minister is in place to make the annual decision to renew their posts.

“Unite representatives secured written pledges from all the local political parties last month committing them to support the provision of interim funding until a new Minister for Education is in post with a budget agreed.

“However when they met with the Education Authority's Director of Children and Young People's Services and acting Head of Youth Service, they said they could not accept these pledges as assurance of continued funding. Instead they require confirmation from the Department of Finance and Personnel, via the Department of Education, to approve the budgetary commitment.

“Local politicians have approached the Departments of Finance and Education but no resolution has been achieved.

“Today I have written to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire MP, asking him to intervene and issue a temporary continuance of all youth work posts until a Minister is appointed and a budget approved.

"Youth services play a vital role, in the most socially deprived areas, in supporting young people transition from childhood to adulthood. It is unacceptable in times of high youth unemployment, unprecedented rates of suicide and poor youth mental health that support services are left in a political hiatus. Our youth workers and young people deserve better than buck-passing between senior management in the Education Authority and those in the Departments of Education and Finance”, Mr Kelly ended.

For further information or to arrange an interview contact Jimmy Kelly, Irish Regional Secretary, Unite, tel. 00353 87 9003217, or Donal O’Cofaigh (Unite NI Press Office), tel. 07810 157926.

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