Closing crèche ‘will force mothers out of education course’

Some mothers will be forced to abandon an education course in midstream if the VEC goes ahead with plans to close a crèche in north Cork.

Cork County Council is to write to the Department of Education urging it to reverse the decision by Cork County VEC to close the crèche at Coláiste an Chraoibhín, Fermoy.

Cllr Kevin O’Keeffe (Fianna Fáil) said he had received a number of pleas from parents to prevent the closure.

He gave the example of one young mother who left the education system early in life but later returned to take on a full-time, two-year course at the college because she was able to put her child in the crèche.

“She’s now been informed that the crèche is closing and she won’t be able to complete the course,” said Mr O’Keeffe said. “The VEC should provide funding to keep it open. After all, the Government is talking about upskilling people.”

Cllr Noel McCarthy (Labour) said a group from the town had met with VEC officials and presented them with a business plan which they thought would be acceptable.

Mr McCarthy said he was informed late last week via email that the business plan was unacceptable. “We were bitterly disappointed,” he said. “We feel the crèche was serving the needs of the people of Fermoy.

“It was a top-class facility and was there for more than 10 years. We should also call on the Department of Education to reverse that decision.”

Mr O’Keeffe, meanwhile, urged Mr McCarthy to use his influence with his party colleague, Innovation Minister Sean Sherlock, to help push for the decision to be reversed.

Cllr Noel O’Connor (Fine Gael), who is a member of VEC and of Coláiste an Chraoibhín’s board of management, said the crèche was draining resources from the school.

“Numbers attending the crèche have declined rapidly since it opened,” Mr O’Connor said. “The decision was made by the [Cork County VEC] executive because we have to balance our books. The VEC wouldn’t be allowed by the department to continue to subsidise it.”

However, councillors have decided to support Mr O’Keeffe and Mr McCarthy and write to the Department of Education in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the closure.


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