The underspend of €100,000 on a pilot youth employment project in Ballymun is a missed opportunity for the area.

€302,000 was provided for the EU’s Youth Guarantee scheme. However, on completion of the pilot study last December, just two thirds of the funding was used. The unspent portion of this will now be returned to the EU, it is understood.

The money was to be used to help people aged 18-24 to access jobs, internships, training schemes, or other educational programmes.

It’s clear that the Youth Guarantee is working for Ballymun and is helping its young people find employment, and credit where credit’s due to all stakeholders involved. However, it’s also clear that a ball has been dropped here. Under no circumstances should we be allowing European funds flow back into the coffers in Brussels. They should be kept in Ballymun. This is a great shame and a missed opportunity for the area

The €100,000 – which was mostly earmarked for work placement incentives – strikes me as something that could have been used for Innovate Ballymun, a jointly funded initiative by Dublin City Council and Dublin City University. This project operates local social innovation hubs and would be very grateful of additional funding. Similarly, the funding could have been used for a recent level four FETAC course initiated by Dublin footballer Philly McMahon. This course has managed to get 70% of its participants off the live register (35% into employment, 35% into further education) in its own pilot year and has been since discontinued. Both projects would be worthy of further funding and could have possibly fit this remit.

If one thing is clear though, it’s that the Youth Guarantee has worked – youth unemployment plunged by 29% locally, compared to an average of 19% nationally. More should have been done with the remainder of this funding in Ballymun. Any investment into this area has to be ring-fenced and maximised in the future.