Local MLAs challenged over latest library cuts

Enniskillen Library    RMG53

Enniskillen Library RMG53


THE proposal to cut opening hours in Enniskillen Library will impact on the most vulnerable groups in society in Fermanagh, it has been claimed. 
Donal O’Cofaigh, secretary of the Fermanagh Council of Trade Unions warned that the proposals were ‘deeply flawed’. 
He was speaking at the start Fermanagh Trades Council’s  campaign to retain the library’s opening hours. 
A campaign group called ‘Hands Off Enniskillen Library’ is taking up the fight to retain its opening hours. 
Now there is protest scheduled to take place at the Library on June 25th to coincide with other protests across the north.
Speaking after a successful launch meeting of the campaign to defend library services at Enniskillen, Mr O’Cofaigh outlined his group’s concerns.
“The meeting reflected the depth of concern over proposals for a second reduction in the opening hours of Enniskillen Library. The service suffered a similar cut only a few years ago and this will further limit access to library facilities.
“Enniskillen library is a vital resource for students – cutting its opening hours represents an attack on educational provision in our county which will affect all communities,” he said. 
“Many individuals who don’t have access at home are reliant on library facilities for accessing internet or computing and will be impacted heavily. This cutback really targets the most vulnerable.”
The meeting heard from a union representative, Derek Parton, who described how library services have been cut back across the county for years now. We have gone from having three rural mobile library buses to only one. 
Mr O’Cofaigh went on, “The public consultation on the proposal is inherently flawed as it seeks to pit one group of service users against others by asking them to identify which hours they want cut rather than whether they support the cuts at all. It also is timed to coincide with school holidays which will mean students are unlikely to know of the proposals before it is too late to get involved.
“We have established a broad campaign group ‘Hands Off Enniskillen Library’ and will be rolling out our own petition against library cuts alongside a range of campaign activities. The campaign is calling on all political representatives to make clear their stance on cuts to opening hours and to publicly back the retention of full-library services in Enniskillen.
He advised anyone wanting to get involved to get in contact through the Facebook campaign page.
Damien Harris of the Northern Ireland Labour Party who was also at the meeting described the cutbacks at the library as ‘death by a thousand cuts’.
“It’s not just these cuts, but they are coming at a time when there is also a reduction to mobile library services across the county,” he said. “It seems they are attempting to take away vital resources from our community.”
He attended Saturday’s meeting with a number of other representatives including Tanya Jones of the Green Party.
He said the plan of action was to highlight these cuts more locally because not enough people realise they are happening. 
“We’re going to join the nationwide campaign and protest at the minister’s office in Stormont with petitions and we plan to protest at the Library in Enniskillen on June 25th to coincide with other protests across the North.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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