Over 500 parents and young people packed into Irish medium post-primary school Coláiste Feirsfte on Tuesday 4 April to rally in support of the four Glór na Móna youth workers who lost their jobs on Friday due to Education Authority withdrawal of funding.
A public protest was announced at the meeting last night for this Thursday 6 April today at Belfast EA offices in Academy Street at 3.30pm.
15-year old Michael Carlin spoke out to the packed hall and said: “I’ve been attending Cumann Óige Uachtar Chluanaí in the Upper Springfield since I was 9-year-old. We can’t believe that our club has been closed down by this disgraceful decision.
“We have over 120 young people attending our club two nights a week and have been demanding in recent years that we receive more funding so what we open 7 nights a week like the mainstream English medium clubs.
“For years, we’ve have been getting the crumbs from the table and now they even take that away from us. We will fight this tooth and nail and are determined to get the funding resources we are entitled to.”
One of the youth workers who lost his job on Friday, Conchur Mac Siacais, added: “I have employed under this scheme for four years during which time I completed by degree in youth work. I graduated last year with first class honours and in my first year of professional practice and have been put out of job by the EA.
“This decision is political and stinks to the high heavens. Now my youth club, Club Óige na bhFál, which is based in Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich has been left without a leader in charge and has been forced to close its doors. We need to stand together and fight this.
Responding to the current predicament, Glór na Móna Director Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh said said: “The massive crowd here tonight is proof positive that our community won’t stand idly by while the EA actively discriminate against the Irish language community by removing frontline youth provision and effectively closing four of our youth clubs across the city.
“We demand that funding for these posts and invaluable services be restored immediately and that the EA engage positively with the sector in order to agree an equitable allocation of resources based on current demand which ensures that the Department of Education fulfils its statutory duty to encourage and facilitate Irish medium education under the Good Friday Agreement.
Protest planned for 3.30pm @EA Offices in Academy Street Belfast
Glór na Móna are an Irish Language and Community Organisation based in Gael-Ionad Mhic Goill, 4 Whiterock Close, BT 12 7RG.