independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Call for open inquiry into closure of VEC creche

Was fermoy closed to release funds for Mallow deal?

Fermoy crèche workers Paula Connolly, Tallow and Margaret Power, Kilworth, along with their supporters. Photo: Tom Doherty

A CALL has been made for the VEC to explain exactly why it took the controversial decision to close a crèche attached to a school in Fermoy last year.

The crèche at Coláiste an Chraoibhín closed its doors in May 2012, despite strong opposition from within the local community, who disputed a VEC claim that the facility was unviable and was draining resources from the school.

Speaking at a Cork County Council meeting last May, VEC member Cllr Noel O'Connor said this meant the crèche "cannot continue" as it is and "cannot pay for itself".

This despite the drawing up of a business plan to save the facility that was backed by local Labour town and county councillor Noel McCarthy, among others.

The business plan, undertook by the 'Save Our Crèche' campaign, forecast that the facility, which had 28 children on its roll book, could have an operating profit of just under €1,200 per week.

The plan, which was given to the VEC, made provision for cutting of staff to two full-time members and the addition of eight children to its roll.

According to the plan, the reduction in staff would slash the wages bill from €140,000 per year to €60,000 per year

Its authors concluded that when all of the running costs were taken into account the crèche would be left with an operating profit of €1,177 per week, which would enable the VEC to cover staff wages even during the summer months.

However, the VEC said that two-full time staff were not enough to run the facility.

Last week it emerged that documents in the hands of Pobal showed CCVEC closed the crèche in Fermoy in order to reallocate its funding allocation to a community crèche at Ballyellis in Mallow.

The revelation has angered Cllr Noel McCarthy who has called on the VEC to open a full inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the closure of the crèche in Fermoy.

"At the time I said that it should never had been closed The business plan put forward showed there was every reason to believe that the crèche was a viable proposition," said Cllr McCarthy.

"To my mind we were never given a satisfactory explanation as to why the crèche was closed or why the funding was being diverted to prop up the facility in Mallow. Many questions still need to be answered about this whole issue and I believe the only was to do this is through a full and open inquiry process," he added.

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