THERE are concerns that plans to reduce summer opening hours at Enniskillen Library could become permanent.
Reduced hours and possible cuts in staffing have been severely criticised.
It is believed the Enniskillen branch is operating with a reduced budget as a result of the ongoing deadlock at the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont.
Now a campaign to defend library access has begun by Unite in the Community and is calling on the Executive to reverse the cuts.
Libraries NI announced summer opening hours in a number of libraries, including Enniskillen, which will take effect from Monday 19 June until Saturday 2 September 2017.
Enniskillen Library is the only library affected in Fermanagh and it will temporarily close on a Tuesday night at 5pm instead of 8pm during this period.
A spokesman said, “Libraries NI has received an indicative budget allocation which is 4% less than the baseline budget for last year. The Board reluctantly agreed a spending plan to achieve savings with an integral part being the introduction of temporary summer opening hours.
“This was agreed on the basis that many customers use the library differently over the summer period and, in recognition of this, these seasonal opening hours have been developed accordingly.”
However, Donal O’Cofaigh of Unite has responded to plans for reduced summer opening hours by, warning these cuts could become permanent.
He was disappointed that Enniskillen Library would be effected by these cuts and vowed to fight to reverse the cuts.
“This is because of a projected 4% reduction in funding as a result of the ongoing deadlock at Stormont,” he said.
“These cuts will have a detrimental impact on many, especially the most vulnerable. If there is money to fund tax cuts for big business and to make public sector workers redundant, why isn’t there money to fund this vital service? We know that ‘temporary’ cuts often become permanent. We must campaign to ensure this does not become the case.”
Albert Hewitt, the union’s community co-ordinator said, “We are asking people sign our online petition and demonstrate their support for our libraries”.
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