Politicians vow to fight for retention of youth facilities in Ballyclare

Danny Kinahan.
Danny Kinahan.

South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan and his party colleague Steve Aiken MLA have condemned the decision to close Ballyclare Youth Club and have vowed to explore ways to ensure services are maintained.

Responding to confirmation that the facility has closed, the Ulster Unionist Party representatives said they are looking at “every possible option to ensure services are maintained with minimal impact on the young people involved.”

Announcing the closure on Monday, June 6, a spokesperson for the youth club said: “We are very disappointed to inform you that Ballyclare Youth Club is no longer open. We have been informed that the school (Ballyclare Secondary) has decided not to hire a new youth tutor, which in turn means the club cannot reopen. It’s a sad day for all of us and for the young people of Ballyclare. We would like to thank you all sincerely for your continued support throughout.”

Commenting on the closure, Mr Kinahan said: “This is appalling news for the youth of Ballyclare. The town is already poorly served in terms of youth provision; I cannot believe that every avenue has been explored in trying to prevent this from happening and I intend, with my colleague Steve Aiken and our council team, to engage with every stakeholder to ensure that every option is considered. So much is dependent on good, functioning youth services; the success of a community can depend upon it. To make the passive conclusion that nothing can be done is to give up. For us in the UUP that is simply not an option.”

Echoing those sentiments, Mr Aiken said: “I am dismayed by this decision. The Ballyclare Youth Service has achieved some excellent results over the years; the loss will be felt not only across the town but the whole of South Antrim. I agree with Danny that we cannot simply accept this as a lost cause. We both pledge to do all that we can to consider every alternative by working with stakeholders in the community, the Education Authority, parents and our local councillors.”