Youth services to resume immediately in trouble flash points across Northern Ireland

Education Minister Peter Weir has confirmed the reopening of some youth services in response to the recent violence on the streets.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 9:27 am
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 12:06 pm
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th April 2021 General view of Nationalist youths clashing with the PSNI on the Springfield Road close to the peace line in west Belfast this evening. Protests have been taking place across Northern Ireland by loyalists in the past week. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.

He said this applies to youth services in areas of ‘heightened community tensions’.

The move comes after the NI Executive held an extraordinary meeting yesterday to discuss the violence across unionist areas in Derry, Belfast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland over the past fortnight.

Derry’s police chief Darrin Jones warned earlier this week that children as young as 12 were getting involved in the violence, which has seen police attacked with petrol bombs, fireworks and masonry.

Water cannons were deployed in Belfast for the first time in years on Thursday night as violence erupted again.

In an attempt to divert young people from engaging in violent activity, the Executive has agreed that all youth centres and provisions which operate in such areas can maximise the use of their facilities and services with immediate effect.

This includes educational visits and residential provision (overnight stays) when there is significant risk of harm or criminalisation of children and young people.

Peter Weir said: “Youth services play a vital role in supporting young people throughout Northern Ireland.

“As a society we should all be appalled at witnessing young people and even children being involved in the recent violence on our streets.

“At this time it is even more important that youth services are able to meet the needs of young people in these areas.”

The Minister added: “These measures are intended to safeguard and ensure the welfare of our young people and to divert them from becoming involved in risk taking and dangerous behaviours.

“I want to commend the Education Authority’s Youth Service and all youth workers for their commitment to helping our young people in these very difficult times.”

An online form is available from today, Friday April 9 on to approve education visits including overnight stays for the statutory and voluntary sector providers funded under local area, local project and TPP funding.

For areas not impacted by heightened community tensions, regulations however remain the same.