Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Dublin Youth Organisations.

7.

asked the Minister for Education if he is aware that the Holy Ghost Youth Club, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, may have to close down due to inflation and rising costs; if he will provide the necessary moneys on an annual basis to ensure its continued operation; and if he will make a statement on the provision of finance in general to youth organisations in County Dublin and the Borough of Dún Laoghaire.

8.

asked the Minister for Education if, in view of the continuing difficulties between his Department and the City of Dublin VEC concerning the extension of Comhairle le Leas Óige grants to the Dublin County and Dún Laoghaire Borough, he will consider the allocation of a sum for the current year to Dún Laoghaire Vocational Education Committee to meet, in particular, the serious current financial working deficit of the Holy Ghost Youth Club, Dún Laoghaire.

With your permission, a Cheann Chomhairle. I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 8 together.

My Department's scheme of grants for youth work is operated through the national governing bodies of the voluntary youth organisations. Grants are not made by my Department to individual clubs.

In regard to the provision of assistance to youth clubs in County Dublin and the Borough of Dún Laoghaire, I would refer the Deputy to my statement in the House on 25th November last. My invitation then to the vocational education committees of Dublin City, Dublin County and the Borough of Dún Laoghaire to come together to discuss the extension of the activities of Comhairle le Leas Óige has received consideration from each of the committees but definite arrangements for a meeting have not yet emerged.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary pursue this matter of joint meetings of the three educational authorities concerned? The Parliamentary Secretary is aware that there is a statutory instrument available for him to dispose of moneys which I understand are available for the County Dublin areas and Dún Laoghaire in particular. I refer the Parliamentary Secretary to section 5 of Statutory Instrument 328 of 1975 which sets out very clearly the maintenance of new training centres of the Dublin city vocational education area——

Order. The Deputy seems to be imparting information rather than seeking it.

I want to impart the information first and having done that I want to pick up a question. The question is: can the Parliamentary Secretary, as a matter of urgency, give the moneys so badly needed by this youth club?

I would like to deal first with the information which the Deputy has imparted. The authorisation to spend money outside the Dublin city area was specifically predicated and if he looks closely at the terms of that statutory instrument he will find that this is a case of an agreement between the vocational education committees of Dublin City, Dublin County and the Dún Laoghaire area. At the time that instrument contained this phrase in relation to this extension no such agreement existed. It was with a view to securing such an agreement, subject to certain conditions, that I suggested in the Dáil here on the 25th November last that a meeting might be set up between the three vocational education committees. In the case of Dún Laoghaire, the area in which the Deputy is interested, the Borough of Dún Laoghaire Vocational Education Committee have indicated in a letter of the 11th January last that they are prepared to take part in such a meeting on the lines suggested. However, there are two other parties involved and their agreement to the meeting has not yet been forthcoming.

The Parliamentary Secretary has been doing his best to bring the three groups together, but is he aware that unless the groups come together very quickly—and by that I mean not later than the 30th June, 1977—there is a very distinct possibility of this youth club closing down? The Parliamentary Secretary may be unaware that already the board of management have been obliged to place a salaried youth officer on protective notice, the protective notice to fall in with the 30th June next. Therefore this is an urgent and serious matter. Would the Parliamentary Secretary make a number of efforts to bring these three groups together?

I can assure the Deputy that the needs of the Holy Ghost Youth Club in particular and of other clubs in the Dún Laoghaire area have been repeatedly brought to my notice by other Members of the Oireachtas. I am very anxious to find a solution to the problems which exist here but I cannot at the moment say that I see a definite outcome. However, I am pursuing a number of inquiries.

Despite these difficulties is it not a fact that money was spent under the powers given by that statutory instrument outside the city of Dublin by Comhairle le Leas Óige?

I do not think so. Perhaps in a very marginal area, I think Ballymun——

Ballymun, yes.

——there was some money spent. The authorisation does not really exist at the moment for that to be done on any extensive scale. If one were to look into the expenditure in question one would find that it was not regular.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary saying that the money which is already spent was spent illegally?

It was not a significant sum anyway. I have no wish to be drawn into a statement as to the propriety from an auditor's point of view of the expenditure in question. I have stated already in the House that the agreement which is necessary for the implementation of the terms of the statutory instrument referred to by Deputy Andrews, and referred to previously by the Deputy himself, does not presently exist.

Because it was not signed, is that right?

The agreement did not exist at all.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary, seeing that he has said that it would be desirable to form this agreement, not regard as a happy error the fact that this money was spent and would he not encourage the further spending of the money?

I do not think the error is happy.

May I ask——

Next Question, No. 9. Order.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary reply to my question?