The decision by the Civic Trust to finish the CE scheme in Galway on 2nd June, 2017 has to be immediately reviewed says Deputy Connolly. This scheme has been running for 23 years and at any given time has between 20 and 25 participants, with each individual providing vital support to a wide range of community projects throughout the city.
Deputy Connolly said that there are many examples of these projects which we now take for granted because of the ongoing, wonderful work of CE scheme participants.
The Fisheries Tower is a particularly good example of the scheme in action. It is now open to the public, free of charge, six days a week and has become a must-see in the tourist trail of Galway directly as a result of this scheme.
In addition we have the Hall of the Red Earl on Druid Lane operated by CE participants, the ongoing maintenance of the Circle of Life Garden in Salthill and support staff at Áras na nGael.
The wonderful project undertaken by Bádóirí an Chladaigh where the participants painstakingly restore traditional boats is also under the remit of the threatened CE scheme. There are seven participants in this strand of the scheme which to date has seen the restoration of five boats which have become part of the fabric of the city.
Without these projects, said Deputy Connolly, the city wouldn’t be what it is, and indeed they were instrumental in helping the city to achieve the status of ‘European City of Culture’ for 2020. Furthermore the progression rate from the CE scheme to other employment and/or to further education is very positive. More specifically, over the last 5 years the average transition to employment rate is 84%. For example, of the eight participants who completed the scheme in 2015, 7 went on to other employment, and in 2016, of the 12 participants, 7 went on to further employment, and, to date, in 2017 the two participants who finished the scheme have gone on to full-time employment.
Given what the CE scheme has done for the city it is difficult to understand how the Civic Trust has arrived at this decision. It is an organisation that rightly has a wonderful reputation in the city and has been supported by friends, sponsors and the City Council. In a year where it is celebrating its 25 birthday and where the city is preparing for the European City of Culture it is imperative that they review their decision as a matter of urgency.