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Ruane disappointed at lost opportunity to highlight additional resources for Youth Service

5 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has expressed her disappointment that Sammy Wilson failed to move a debate in the Assembly this morning on Youth Services.

In what the Minister termed a lost opportunity, a debate on the youth service budget and the possible transfer of functions to local councils was dropped from Assembly business following Mr Wilson's failure to attend the debate.

Speaking from Parliament Buildings, Ms Ruane said:

"I regret the fact that Sammy Wilson failed to move the Assembly motion today. I see Youth Services as an important and integral part of the work of the Department of Education and had looked forward to a constructive debate on the future of the Service.

"I have been pleased, in recent weeks, to have secured additional resources for the sector, a much improved situation from the draft budget allocations. I listened to and acted positively on the concerns of various groups and individuals who contacted me during the consultation on the draft budget.

"I particularly wanted to engage Mr Wilson in debate over where Youth Services should be located. I do not agree with the view that they should move to local councils. Youth work is essentially 'non-formal education', which benefits from strong links to the curriculum. It benefits many young people who may otherwise have been failed by the education system.

"I have seen no arguments that would lead me to believe that the interests of children and young people would be better served by moving, what is essentially an education service, to local councils. In fact I have taken many opportunities to visit youth clubs and spoken to youth leaders all of whom have expressed concern over any proposal to transfer youth services to local councils.

"Youth work is about educating young people to participate, respect and value difference. I believe strongly that this is best served within the Department of Education, where greater links with formal education can be forged for the benefit of learners.

"I am disappointed that Sammy Wilson did not move on the motion this morning. I understand the importance of youth services and am committed to securing their long-term viability within the Department of Education." ENDS

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