Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Waterford Youth Committee Bows Out - The End of an Era

Today was another red letter day for Waterford City - not that you'd know it. Today we held the last ever meeting of Waterford Youth Committee.

I suppose we got a two year reprieve in that it should have happened two years ago when the Waterford City Vocational Education Committee was amalgamated with the County VEC and Wexford VEC into the now Waterford Wexford Education & Training Board. But as no guidelines were in place as to the make up of the new committee and there was work that needed to be done, the Youth Committee stayed in place to facilitate that.

But the day has finally dawned - indeed is almost past as I write this. I didn't think it proper to let it go without some acknowledgement of it's history, it's contribution to the youth of the City and without saying a big 'thank you' to the many people who contributed along the way.

Top of that pile has to be the legend that is Joe Gough, the Youth Development Officer. Joe has worked tirelessly and it is a testament almost entirely due to him and his tenacity that the Youth Sector in Waterford City has grown to the most well developed - and indeed, well funded outside of Dublin. It is one area where Waterford has been ahead of the posse and led the way. Joe is highly respected not just in Waterford but nationally and at government level. He deserves the respect and thanks of generations of Waterford young people, youth workers and volunteers for his single-mindedness in their benefit. Joe started out 34 years ago with a budget of just €4,000 a year. In 2015 the Youth Committee oversaw the distribution of over €1,000,000 in funding to Waterford City's Youth Sector. That is quite an achievement.

I also want to thank most sincerely, Cathy Drohan (and all those who worked in that position previously) for her hard work and commitment to the Youth Committee.

I have been a member of the WYC since 1999 and have been proud to Chair it since 2000. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege. I wish to acknowledge the current members of the Youth Committee both past - but most especially present. And in particular the youth sectoral representatives for all the different areas of youth work in Waterford City. They are currently Cathy Hanrahan, Mary Halligan, Breda Murphy, Gail O'Sullivan, Karen Rice and James Maguire. They have worked (and continue to do so!) tirelessly above and beyond the call of duty both on the Voluntary Youth Council and on the Youth Committee for the betterment young people and youth work.

We have dealt with all sorts of issues over the years; we have lobbied ministers; we have visited government departments; we have worked with many partners; we have been members of boards of management; we have introduced stringent quality standards; we have enjoyed award ceremonies; and of course we have handed out the odd cheque too! Waterford City has been the envy of many who saw what had been achieved here. And we have been proud of those achievements.

I am hopeful that the Youth Sector in Waterford City will continue to thrive. There have been very difficult years in recent times with many cutbacks hurting people only too willing to work with less, while delivering more. We have been proud also, to support those many services provided voluntarily, from scouting & guiding, to our many marching bands, youth groups, those who give their time generously in the special needs sector and the entire Voluntary Sector. The young people of Waterford have been enriched immeasurably by your efforts. I salute each of you. You represent the very best of what this ancient city has to offer. Thank you.

And so we move into the next iteration from September when the new Waterford & Wexford Youth Work Committee will take up the reins. I look forward to seeing the Youth Services in both County Waterford and indeed Wexford develop in the way that Waterford City has over decades. All the while endevouring to ensure that the City loses none of the hard fought for gains that have been delivered by Joe and his team over 34 years.

Another goodbye. And a sad one. So long WYC; it's been fun. Onwards and upwards.

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