Northern Ireland news

Weir reopens youth services 'with immediate effect' to lure young people away from violence

Trouble flares tonight on both sides of the Lanark Way ‘peace line’ in Belfast. Shankill Road area. Photo: Q Radio
Paul Ainsworth

SOME youth services in areas affected by the recent loyalist violence are to resume in a bid to discourage young people from taking part in the disorder.

Education minister Peter Weir announced that services including youth centres, educational visits, and residential provision in the form of overnight stays for youths at risk of "criminalisation" would be reopened "with immediate effect".

The move follows a call earlier this week by First Minister Arlene Foster to immediately reopen facilities including youth clubs in an attempt to urge children and teenagers away from street disorder.

She said that after speaking to youth workers in affected areas, "part of the issue" relating to the violence was that facilities for young people remained shut due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Speaking yesterday Mr Weir said: "Youth services play a vital role in supporting young people throughout Northern Ireland. As a society we should all be appalled at witnessing young people and even children being involved in the recent violence on our streets.

"At this time it is even more important that youth services are able to meet the needs of young people in these areas."

The minister continued: "These measures are intended to safeguard and ensure the welfare of our young people and to divert them from becoming involved in risk taking and dangerous behaviours. I want to commend the Education Authority’s Youth Service and all youth workers for their commitment to helping our young people in these very difficult times."

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