Funding fails Mullingar youth café

The youth café planned for Mullingar will now have to go on the bureaucratic long finger after falling victim to a €50,000 shortfall in funding.

This was revealed in a presentation made to the bi-annual meeting of the joint policing committee in the Market House this week (December 5 ) by Joan O’Connor from the Encouraging Youth Empowerment (EYE ) project.

She also told the meeting that the Lifebuoy project - aimed at helping young offenders back into education, was only funded until December 15, but that she was confident of getting more funding in January.

The EYE Project was started in 2001 “to prevent recidivism” - or re-offending - according to Ms O’Connor, and is funded by the European Social Fund.

“We sought funding 18 months ago, and actually got a premises for the youth café, but fortunately we didn’t sign the lease. This was after being told [by RAPID] we were getting the funding,” said Ms O’Connor.

Ms O’Connor was asked if all RAPID funding was being suspended, but she was of the opinion “it was just the dormant account funding that has been suspended”.

She went on to explain the EYE Project in more detail to the meeting of senior police officers and councillors, and how it was set up for “young people who have offended or are in danger of offending”, and could only be accessed by referral from a garda or a junior liaision officer.

Participation is voluntary, and EYE enjoys a cross-agency support from the Gardaí, the council, the VEC, the HSE, RAPID, and the probation services, the meeting was told.

Ms O’Connor explained how EYE ran four main programmes in civic responsibility, social education, recreation and the Lifebuoy scheme.

“It’s uncommon for youths to be involved in crime who are in education,” explained a community garda in attendance.

“Lots of our referrals have been expelled,” said Joan, who explained how each referred individual would be assessed.

“We’re seeking FETAC Level 3 accreditation, which is the equivalent of the Junior Cert. We try to get them into training programmes, and sometimes back into mainstream education,” she said.

Cllr Denis Leonard lamented this setback, and reminded the meeting “that every €1 spent on prevention will save €13 further down the line”.

“I want to see the youth café pushed at every level,” he said.

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