[Sinn Fein]

9th May 2002

Children's playgroup faces closure amid CE cutbacks

Dublin South West Sinn Fein candidate, Councillor Sean Crowe, has hit out today at ``the creeping elimination of CE schemes by the back door'' after it emerged that an Irish language children's playgroup in Killinarden is threatened with closure because of the refusal to grant a CE scheme extension.

Nuala Purdy, who runs the Killinarden Naoíonra, told Councillor Crowe that despite assurances that drug rehab projects and children's playgroups would not be hit by CE cutbacks and previous guarantees that she would not be adversely affected, she has nevertheless been told by FAS that there will now be no extension to her scheme. The playgroup, which caters for 22 children, now faces closure next week.

``This is an absolute disgrace,'' said Seán Crowe. ``There are three women employed by this playgroup, two of them on CE schemes and a paid part-timer, but Nuala is the only one qualified to run the Naíonra. If this decision to refuse an extension stands, a playgroup that performs an invaluable social and educational function in this area will be forced to close.

``This is a shocking example of a creeping and underhanded policy of phasing out these schemes. Managers are being told not to replace staff or take on new workers. This will put thousands of CE workers back on the dole and will also have devastating effects on communities.

``The government must come clean on their atitude to CE schemes in general but urgent action is required now to ensure that this playgroup is not lost to a community that needs it badly.''ENDS

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