Kildare South TD and Chairman of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Martin Heydon has welcomed confirmation from Minister for Children Katherine Zappone that she will sanction funding for a full time youth officer for Kildare. This follows numerous representations from the Deputy following the Ministers visit to Kildare last year.
“I am delighted to received confirmation from Minister Zappone that her department will fund the provision of a full time youth officer for County Kildare in 2017. This is something that I have fought for, for months. I raised this issue on the floor of the Dail with the Minister in November. While she acknowledged the need for a dedicated youth officer for the County at the time, I have been frustrated at the lack of progress with filling this post.
“Kildare’s population is one of the fastest growing in the State. According to the 2016 census, the population increased by 5.6% compared with the national average of 3.7%. According to the 2011 census, 28.3% of the population in Kildare is aged 17 and under compared with the national average of 25%. I expect that trend to continue and to be reflected in the full 2016 census results. I had highlighted to the Minister during our debates that Kildare is too big a County, with an above average youth population, not to have its own dedicated youth officer and I am glad that she has taken that on board.
“I now urge Kildare Wicklow Education & Training Board to fill this vacancy as soon as possible to work with all of the youth organisations around the county.
Notes to the Editor
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Dr. Katherine Zappone) by Deputy Martin Heydon
for ORAL ANSWER on 28/03/2017
To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of discussions between her department and the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board on the appointment of a dedicated youth office for County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Martin Heydon T.D.
I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department will provide an allocation to Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board for the provision of a full time youth officer for County Kildare in 2017. My Department is engaging with the ETB in this regard and I expect that the post will be filled shortly. In the interim, the ETB has a Youth Officer in place who is very active in both counties.
The Deputy will be aware that the provision of the full-time officer follows my engagement with public representatives, youth organisations, the Gardaí and others in Co Kildare. Indeed the Deputy himself as well as Deputy O’Loughlin joined me on 22nd June last when I opened the Hive Youth Café in Kildare Town. It was an evening of celebration. During the visit I also took time to sit down with youth and community representatives to discuss the needs of a county which has one of the youngest populations. It was a productive discussion and I came away very impressed with the partnership which has formed in Kildare to deliver for young people.
It was agreed then that we would continue further engagement and on 16th November I met members of the Kildare Children and Young People’s Services Committee and the Kildare Local Community Development Committee here in Leinster House. The urgent need for the provision of the full time post was highlighted during that discussion. I can now confirm that following that meeting and contacts with the Deputy and other public representatives that we are now in a position to move forward.
My Department has been working with a number of ETB’s which have not had a full Youth Officer function in place. With this in mind, I have increased the overall allocation for this purpose nationally, from €1.743m in 2016 to €2m this year.
The increased allocation is illustrative of my commitment to youth services, and I wish Kildare and Wicklow ETB well as it moves to fill this valuable post.