Tramore Town Councillor Pat Finnerty is convinced the method by which government funding is being sought to keep the local Youth Café operational is all wrong.
And when the subject was debated at the Council’s January meeting he pointed to Waterford City as an example of how to get financial backing for youth services.
“There are ways of doing things”, advised the Independent member and, hinting that Tramore was too abrasive in demanding money from Minister for Children Barry Andrews, he said Waterford was obviously going about matters the right way because it had benefitted from generous support from that Department, most recently in the form of an €180,000 cheque received before Christmas.
That angered Fine Gael Councillor Ann Marie Power who said she bitterly resented the implied criticism of the committee behind the Youth Café project. Accusing Cllr Finnerty of being disingenuous, she told him he was completely off the mark and if he wanted to pussyfoot around the Minister she would certainly not do the same.
But Cllr Finnerty insisted Tramore should ascertain from Waterford how they extracted the funding. “They have been successful and we should learn from their methods”, he suggested. He refused a request from Cllr Power to withdraw his earlier remarks.
Cllr Maxine Keoghan, also FG, said she had been a party to a campaign for funding for a Youth Café in Ferrybank and it proved unsuccessful, so it was not as easy to get money as Cllr Finnerty seemed to think.
The discussion arose after Cllr Joe Conway (Ind) asked that a reply from the Minister’s office to a Council request for a meeting with Mr Andrews be “noted”. The one-paragraph reply, in the name of the Minister’s Diary Secretary, said the Minister had asked that receipt of the letter be acknowledged and a further reply would issue as soon as possible.
Responding, Cllr Tom Raine (FG) said he was very disappointed with the Minister’s response, pointing out that he was not stating whether or not he would actually meet with anybody on the issue. He believed the letter would be put in a drawer to gather dust and Tramore would be fobbed off once again by government. But he was not going to let go and would seek to contact the Minister and pin him down on a date for visiting the resort.
Cllr Power said she agreed totally. The Minister in the recent past had said he commissioned a report on how Youth Cafes should be properly run, but Tramore had the answers because while it had funding to operate it did so successfully. “We can teach the Minister”, she commented and it was that which prompted Cllr Finnerty’s contribution to the discussion.
Cllr Conway, who has been among those spearheading the drive for funding, said that in seeking to have the Minister’s reply simply noted, he was not in any way validating or accepting the response. But he was aware of movement behind the scenes and he just didn’t think that causing a furore at Council level was the best way to go forward.
It was agreed to let the matter lie until the Council’s March meeting.