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Youth work in Ireland – Some historical reflections

Devlin, Maurice (2010) Youth work in Ireland – Some historical reflections. In: The History of Youth Work in Europe. Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg, pp. 93-104. ISBN 9789287168245

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Abstract

A pervasive theme of the first Blankenberge history workshop and the ensuing publication was the seemingly "perpetual identity crisis" of youth work in many or most parts of Europe (Verschelden et al., 2009). While youth work in Ireland has by no means been free of, or has fully resolved, such a crisis, it is perhaps not surprising given the historical context that Bernard Davies’s comments on the relative clarity of the identity (or at least the identifying features) of British youth work also apply to Ireland: … over the past century and a half in England – and indeed, it could be argued, over the UK generally [all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom until 1921 and the six northeastern counties still are] – the core features of a way of working with young people have been formulated and refi ned so that, overall, they provide a well-delineated if unfi nished definition of a distinctive practice that we now call "youth work". (Davies, 2009: 63) The definition of youth work in the Republic of Ireland is also perhaps "unfinished"1 but unlike the situation regarding youth work in the United Kingdom and most of Europe – and indeed unlike the situation that pertains in most of the social professions everywhere – there is in Ireland a law that says explicitly what youth work is: the Youth Work Act 2001. This should certainly not be taken to be a "finished" definition since it is itself an amendment of an earlier piece of legislation (the Youth Work Act 1997) and it could be amended again: Helena Helve informs us that in Finland "legislation governing youth work has been enacted regularly since 1972, being reformed every ten years or so (1986, 1995 and 2006)" (Helve, 2009: 120). However, the two definitions of youth work in Irish law have both been broadly in keeping with the "core features" of youth work as it has evolved historically; the main difference between them being that the key role of the nongovernmental or non-statutory sector is made explicit in the second and current version, largely due to successful lobbying by that sector itself (for further detail on the reasons for the introduction of amending legislation and the relationship between the two definitions see Devlin, 2008).

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Youth Work; Ireland; government policy; employment;
Subjects: Social Sciences > Applied Social Studies
Item ID: 3063
Depositing User: Maurice Devlin
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2012 14:38
Publisher: Council of Europe Publishing
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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