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'Very positive' meeting raises Childline hopes

REPRESENTATIVES of struggling charity Childline have been offered a glimmer of hope after a "very productive" meeting with government officials yesterday.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's (ISPCC) 24-hour helpline faces night-time closure unless the charity can find around €880,000 in funding before the end of the year.

The Department of Children and Youth affairs confirmed that a "first meeting" was held yesterday between department officials, the child and family agency 'Tusla' and the ISPCC.

The department has requested further information from the charity with a second meeting expected next week.

Positive

A spokesman for the ISPCC said the meeting had gone "very well" adding that the charity has high expectations the meetings will result in "positive developments".

"The department understands that we have had an enormous shortfall in funding compared to any other year," he said.

"What we are saying is that it would be advantageous if the government stepped in and helped. We certainly need funding to cover our deficit for this year. We would appreciate any assistance from the government to overcome our current funding problems."

He said the departmental request for financial details has left the charity confident that "positive developments" are imminent.

Childline's national manager, Margie Roe said the charity hopes to get back to a position where they can be funded through public donations "within the next couple of years."

"I was at the meeting myself and all in all I think it was a very positive meeting.

"What we really want is to get out of the position we are in now and we will worry about the future when that happens," she said.

"We are really in a financial bind at the moment so we are looking for assistance to overcome the current problems we are having.

"Part of our strength for the past 25 years has been our autonomy. It is good if you can get some assistance from government but it is important that we continue to have a strong fundraising base ourselves as well."

A spokesman for the Department said the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr James Reilly was unable to attend yesterday's first meeting as he was in Brussels.

He said the minister is keen that a second meeting should take place "as soon as possible."

Scandals

Many Irish charities saw a drop off in public funding in the wake of executive pay scandals at the Central Remedial Clinic and Rehab last year.

"Our expectation going forward is that public confidence in the charitable sector will go back up to what it was," said a spokesman for Childline.

"From a historical perspective we have been funded at an autonomous level. That has worked very successfully, we were just hit by something huge in the last year which was entirely unexpected.

"The public drop-off in funding has essentially crippled us to the degree that we are now seeing and that is part and parcel of why the appeal is going out and why the government are engaging with us."

hnews@herald.ie


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