Speaking Notes for Minister Fitzgerald
Launch of Co. Limerick VEC’s Youth Work Development Plan
Wednesday, 4th April, 2012 @ 6.30 p.m.
I am very pleased to be with you all here this evening to officially launch Co. Limerick VEC’s Youth Work Development Plan 2012-2015.
Thank you for your kind invitation and your very warm welcome. In particular, I would like to thank your Youth Officer, Jackie Dwane for inviting me to this very special event and for the expertise and support that Jackie and the Youth Affairs Sub-Committee which comprised members of a range of organisations provided in developing the plan. I would also like to acknowledge the commitment of Denis O’Brien from Foróige who has been involved in the Sub-Committee since 2001, but who has moved to pastures new since last year.
This occasion allows me to recognise and acknowledge the many achievements and excellent work being carried out by an array of individuals and organisations such as Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Mary Jackman, the VEC Committee, Foróige, Limerick County Development Board, Limerick Youth Service and many others working together for the community here in Limerick.
I am delighted to see so many young people here who are both the focus of and some of the key contributors to this comprehensive, very well designed Development Plan that brings us all here today. I am hugely impressed by the talent and creativity evident in your very innovative projects.
The challenges facing our young people can often be immense. I believe it is therefore vitally important that our youth services must be responsive to the changing needs of Ireland’s young people and their communities.
The coming year will see the ongoing progression of reforms to youth work funding stream to ensure that youth organisations have the flexibility to refocus and prioritise, in particular in the context of the financial constraints facing us all.
This year will also see the ongoing development of youth cafés. I have placed a particular importance on the provision of youth cafes and the evidence I have seen from around the country proves the benefit of providing such facilities for young people, in particular given the increased focus by Government on providing healthy, alcohol-free venues. I have secured additional capital funding for both 2012 and 2013 to support the continued development of new youth café facilities.
However in order to ensure that youth work provision is focussed and effective, it is vital that we plan accordingly. We must set out clearly our goals, objectives and targets. We must set out the measures required to meet these and then we must implement.
Planning is critical.
Nationally and Locally.
That is why local development plans such as that which we are lauching this evening are so important.
This Youth Work Development Plan which is a comprehensive, well thought-out strategy is testament to the dedication and hard work of your community and to your collective vision and commitment for the future. I have no doubt that it will contribute a great deal to the provision of youth work services and facilities in county Limerick.
Strategy documents such as this and indeed an event such as today’s doing not happen without the hard work, commitment, organisation, partnership and co-operation of many groups and individuals. Indeed one of the many strengths of this Plan is that it has been created by professionals, volunteers and young people of this community for the benefit of the young people of this community - and who better placed to identify and respond to the needs on the ground than local people.
I noticed when reading the Plan that volunteerism was a recurring theme. Volunteering has for a long time been a crucial and consistent element in the provision of youth services with the majority of people working with young people doing so on a voluntary basis. The benefits of volunteerism are immense as they extend far beyond youth work and into families, communities and Irish society as a whole.
I was also very impressed with the priority given in this Plan to the participation of young people; from the planning stages all the way through to the findings and recommendations. Empowering our young people and listening to their voices is something very important to me and something which should be very important to all of us
This Development Plan that I am launching here today bears witness to the recognition of the importance of consulting with young people in issues and decisions that affect them.
When it comes to planning, my Department also has a major role to play. One of our immediate priority objectives is to prepare a high-level, overarching policy framework for Children & Young People, reflecting a coordinated, seamless approach to the whole-of-childhood and youth. This will be include the preparation of three more detailed strategies including the youth policy.
I look forward to shortly launching a dynamic consultation campaign and I hope that clubs and services here in Limerick, along of course with individual youth leaders and young people will make submissions and lend your voice and your ideas to the future direction of Irish youth policy
In conclusion, let me take this opportunity to thank you once again for your kind invitation to come here this evening to launch Co. Limerick VEC’s Youth Work Development Plan for 2012 to 2115 and to congratulate you for the dedication and hard work that has taken place here in this community for this community.
I wish you all continued success in the future.