Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Committee on Health and Children: Select Sub-Committee on Children and Youth Affairs

Estimates for Public Services 2013
Vote 40 - Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Revised)

1:00 pm

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

On youth funding, I have been chairing the meetings of the EU Council of Youth Ministers in the past six months. It is very clear that, by international standards, our youth work sector is very well funded by comparison with those in some other countries. There is no indication in the feedback we get from youth services that fewer young people are accessing services. They have reformed and changed administrative and pay costs and the figures we have show the same number of young people accessing services, for example, no service has closed. They have adjusted with some difficulty. I am not saying it has been easy for the youth sector. However, I am very impressed by the quality of the interventions made all over the country and the services the youth sector is providing. We are very fortunate to have such a good youth sector. If we were not borrowing €1 billion a month, the Government, I am sure, would want to invest further in youth services.

The successful negotiation of the youth guarantee of €8 billion to be put up front in the EU budget in the next two years offers an opportunity for the youth sector if it can organise and make applications for funding. Youth services can do much of the pre-employment work that needs to be done with young people in terms of confidence-building and developing skills, which is so important for employers. One of my priority goals during the Irish Presidency was to make sure youth work was seen as making a contribution to youth employment. The Government will work on initiatives and programmes to be delivered in the youth guarantee in the next few months. It does provide an opportunity for the youth sector.

In response to Deputy Catherine Byrne’s point on the drugs task forces, I am aware that she has a lot of experience and interest in this area and I am sure the Minister for Health will take her points on board. We do fund some services in that area also and will be working jointly with the Minister for Health on these issues.


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