The “threat of closure” hanging over Time4Us must be “lifted immediately” to allow “some measure of security to the families using the service”, according to Independent Galway West TD Catherine Connolly.
Time4Us, on Shantalla Road, has, for the past 10 years, provided a neutral, child-friendly meeting-place where children can meet with their non-resident parent. The service currently caters for 40 families. However in January it was announced that the service would close. Since then a campaign has been under way to prevent this happening.
Dep Connolly, and other politicians, attended a series of meetings with the directors of the service and representatives of Tusla on this issue; and raised the matter in the Dáil with the Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, who confirmed that she was “open to examining the situation”. Nonetheless, despite “great progress” being made in terms of “viable options”, Dep Connolly is concerned that “further progress is not possible without lifting the threat of closure”.
The TD is arguing that keeping the service open is “vital”. She pointed to a report published in 2014 which looked at a similar project in Dublin and included research undertaken in relation to Time4Us. The report concluded such services should be set-up and maintained throughout the State; that there should be an integrated response by the departments of Children and Youth Affairs, and Justice and Equality, supported by the relevant agencies.
“Unfortunately no action was taken on foot of these recommendations,” said Dep Connolly. “On the positive side, four years later it has been confirmed that a working group co-chaired by the Department of Justice and Equality and Children and Youth Affairs will be set up and that the terms of reference for this working group are awaited. In light of this belated but positive step it is essential that the threat of closure is immediately lifted to allow some measure of security to the families using the service.”