Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Ceisteanna (56)

Richard Boyd Barrett


56. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her Department will work with organisations (details supplied), Tusla, the local authority and other State agencies to ensure that the supervised playground on Library Road, Dún Laoghaire remains supervised into the future; the steps she can take in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51544/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (19 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Children)

I have raised with the Minister the fate of the supervised playground on Library Road in Dún Laoghaire before, and seeing as I am on a roll with her, I hope that there is something that can be done to save the supervision at this playground which is due to terminate. This amenity has been there for decades and has served a disadvantaged community and many children and parents. The supervision and the funding for it is going to be withdrawn shortly before Christmas unless something happens urgently.

I thank the Deputy for his question.

My Department has never funded the supervision of the playground in question. Funding provided by my Department for playgrounds is limited to capital spend, namely, the capital grant funding scheme for play and recreation. Applications for this scheme are made through the local authority play and recreation network. The funding of supervisory posts such as those referenced in the Deputy’s question would not meet the criteria for this funding scheme, or indeed any other funding scheme operated by my Department.

I understand that the supervision currently in place is being delivered by Crosscare until the end of the year and that the supervision relates to supervision of play equipment, rather than direct supervision of children or young people. I further understand that the playground is currently open and will remain open in the future. I can again assure the Deputy that I continue to place a very high priority on ensuring that our children and young people have access to the best possible play and recreation facilities as one way to promote their physical and social development. I am happy to hear that this particular playground facility in Dún Laoghaire will remain open to the public to this end.

The playground will-----

Can the Deputy allow the Minister to finish, please? Are you finished?

My apologies, Minister.

I will take Deputy Boyd Barrett's first supplementary question now.

I will take her time as well.

He could easily. It would not be a problem to him.

I am sure you would like your colleague to get a chance to come back in.

The playground in question is in an area where very few people have front or back gardens. These are old terraced council houses. It is an area with a DEIS school and is a pocket of disadvantage in Dún Laoghaire. Many of the children who go there, from the ages of three and four up to 13, are children who would frankly not go to the other open playgrounds. There are a number of children with special needs. This is a community amenity and facility which caters for children with special needs in an area of disadvantage. It is not unique to have such a thing. I talked to Barnardos, for example, which runs such a facility in Waterford city. This is a good thing that works and is a glue for the community. It is very good for children. We often talk about early intervention and this is a form of it. The people who are there are trained and have Further Education and Training Awards Council, FETAC, qualifications.

To remove the supervision would be retrograde and many of the children who go there will not return to it if there is no supervision.

We have been in direct contact with Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB and its development officer for youth and sports. The information I have in the email is that the supervision was never for the children. It was for the play equipment.

They are playing games.

The Deputy is stating that, but I have information directly from the ETB that says otherwise. If the Deputy is arguing that there are people who are supervising the children, that is not the information I have. Who should I ask if not the development officer for youth and sports in the ETB?

Their names are Pauline and Jill. They have worked there for more than a decade. In Pauline's case it is probably about 20 years. Many of the children who go there now will not go anymore if the supervision is removed. Some agenda is operating here. I believe somebody else wants the building that they partly use, to be honest. That is what is happening and it is wrong and retrograde. Crosscare runs it and employs them and before that it was run by Catholic Youth Care, CYC. That indicates there is a childcare component to it. Why else would Crosscare have employed them for the last ten years? Now Crosscare is saying the children are too young for it because it deals with teenagers. The playground caters for children who are between three and 14 years old. It is retrograde that Crosscare is pulling out; I am disappointed with Crosscare. It is also retrograde that the council seems to think it should get rid of something that is working. The community and the children in the area will suffer consequences if the supervision is removed. I am seeking proactive intervention with the council, Crosscare or the ETB so we do not lose a good facility that works for the community.

I completely understand that the Deputy wants the children to go to the playground. If it has worked in the past, it would be fantastic if it continues. What were the people's names?

The Deputy says they are currently supervising the children as distinct from my information that there is supervision of the play equipment. We can communicate to the development officer for youth and sports that the Deputy is claiming something different. I can ask Crosscare these questions. It could be raised with the county council as well to find out why this is happening. I have tried to answer as best I can with the information I have. I agree with the Deputy that we must support our young people.