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Staff at a shutdown Tallaght youth centre have now been occupying the building for a week

The workers were told they had lost their jobs last Friday.

Image: Save our centre Brookfield Youth and Community Centre.

A “SIT-IN” PROTEST by five former workers at a community and youth centre in Tallaght has reached its eighth day as the staff look for their jobs and centre to be saved.

The ordeal began last Friday when staff at the Brookfield Youth and Community Centre, which serves a disadvantaged part of west Tallaght, were informed that they had lost their jobs with immediate effect.

In a statement the group – Christy Donovan, Gemma O’Reilly, Karen Flanagan, Nicola Nagle and Kieran Walsh –  explained that they were told they had to leave the premises and within an hour the locks would be changed.

Source: Brookfield youth and Community Centre.

Instead of leaving the building the Brookfield Five, as they have become known, decided to stage a sit-in protest, occupying the building, in an effort to keep the centre open and to secure their jobs.

The centre, which has a particular focus on working with young people, opened its doors in 2008. It houses a large hall, a youth cafe, a computer room and an arts and crafts room.

It hosted youth clubs and a homework club as well as numerous classes in dance, cookery and computers.

South Dublin County Council own the €5 million building however it has been run since 2010 by a not-for-profit company, BYCC Ltd.

Foroige, Tallaght Youth Service and Dublin and Dun Laoighaire Education Training Board are anchor tenants in the facility.

Despite the week-long protest and behind the scenes meetings one of the group, Christy Donovan, told TheJournal.ie that the issue looks no closer to being resolved.

Source: Brookfield Youth and Community Centre Facebook.

The group said: “We are extremely stressed and upset at the loss of our jobs and equally as important the closure of the Brookfield youth and community centre.”

However Christy said that the support from the local community has been wonderful.

We’ve got support from everywhere. All the locals have been fantastic, people have been bringing food. We have great support. We have no wages now, so people are starting to feel the pinch.

The staff were offered four weeks’ pay in lieu of notice however they were advised not to cash the cheques because it could be interpreted as acceptance of the loss of their jobs, Christy explained.

A spokesperson for the council stressed that it has no involvement in the business affairs of BYCC and added that it is “anxious to secure first and foremost the physical structure of the building”.

The council added that it is “committed to ensuring that a proper community resource replaces the services previously provided by the company.”

Supporters of the Brookfield Five are planning to hold a march to protest the centre’s closure next Saturday.

Siptu’s Community Sector President, Donnie O’Leary, said the county council and the state agencies who fund programmes in the centre must intervene to keep the facility open until a new board of management is put in place.

The union also called on the Government to increase funding to community organisations.

READ: Two in five calls to Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in 2016 related to childhood abuse>

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Ceimin Burke

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