A BITTER standoff has emerged between a local priest and the leaders of a youth club in the south Kilkenny parish of Slieverue, as the club’s activities have been suspended and the priest has asked its leaders to resign.
When renovations to the parish hall were completed last year, the club was not granted permission to return to its former base of operations. Now, the youth club leaders say, parish priest Fr Thomas Corcoran has asked them all to stand down, for reasons unspecified.
The 11 leaders – volunteers who have certificates in child protection and youth leader training – say that both they and the young people of the parish are being let down.
“The leaders of Slieverue Youth Club would like the parishioners of Slieverue to understand the hurt that has been caused by Fr Corcoran’s demand that we relinquish our role as volunteer youth leaders in Slieverue Youth Club, which has been running very successfully for the last 14 years,” reads a statement published on behalf of the group.
“As the priest has no authority over Slieverue Youth Club, which is affiliated to Ossory Youth, we have no intention of standing down.”
The popular club was established in May 1999, to address the lack of infrastructure for young people aged 12-18 in the area. Under the auspices of the Ossory Youth Services, it gained new members quickly, and won awards and distinctions for the quality of its offering.
Averaging around 60 members before the problems began, fewer than five people came to the last meeting, which was held in an alternative, inadequately-equipped facility almost a year ago.
The leaders say they will be up and running again as soon as they are granted access to the proper facilities in Slieverue Parish Hall. But they are still waiting.
“It doesn’t make any sense, he has let other groups in – even one group from outside the parish in to do a play,” said a spokesperson for the youth club leaders.
“The young people keep asking us when are we starting back, but all we can tell them is that it’s up to Fr Corcoran. We don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Fr Corcoran could not be reached for comment.