Tuesday 20 March 2018

Community training centre to be closed within a year

Hubert Murphy

A MAJOR fight has begun to save the Drogheda Community Training Centre at Mullaghcrone after management and staff were told last Friday that the centre would be closed within a year.

But workers, some of whom have been there for its 30 year existence, are determined that an 'invaluable resource to the people of the area' will not be lost without 'one hell of a battle.'

'We will be taking this all the way to Enda Kenny if it takes that,' Mary Crily, on behalf of the staff, told the Drogheda Independent.

The Mullaghcrone centre was established 30 years ago and has been deemed a 'lifesaver' for many young people who left school early without formal qualifications.

Working through FAS, they gained places at the training centre in one-year blocks and transformed their lives and outlook on life.

'This is much more than a centre. We cater for 16-21 year olds up to FETAC level and many have gone on to enjoy success in their new trade,' Mary said.

The centre has 48 training places in subjects like maths, woodwork, hair design, horticulture, upholstery, painting and decorating, etc.

As well as educating, the ethos is on empowering young people and raising their confidence.

'The centre changes minds, changes views of education and makes young people positive about the future. There has been a lot of success stories here.'

Those attending the centre have taken part in numerous events down the years, with a team building their own craft for this year's Boyne Raft Race while some even got their legs shaved for charity!

The staff were informed that Solas, the Further Education and Training Authority which is responsible for funding, planning and co-ordinating training and further education programmes, were terminating their agreement with the centre 'within 12 months or sooner.'

'It will have a huge impact on the community with the loss of employment and all the repercussions for suppliers and support services not to mention the loss of places for young people within the community. As this is a political decision we will be seeking support to reverse this. There are two Community Training Centres within the North East, one in Drogheda and one in Dundalk. Why are we closing?,' a statement from the centre asked.

'This was a surprise to us because we have a waiting list for places. We would ask the people of the area, from Drogheda to Slane, Navan, Ardee, Dunleer and elsewhere to back us on this and highlight the closure,' Mary added.

A number of the staff are also trained in special needs education, adding to their frustration.

'We feel Drogheda has been badly catered for in terms of industry in recent years, as Dundalk has secured the likes of Xerox and PayPal. The same opportunities are not there for young people in Drogheda we have found,' Mary said.

Over the coming weeks, local councillors and TDs can expect a good degree of correspondence.

Drogheda Independent