LGBTI+ flag flies over council headquarters in Offaly for the first time

Photo: Aishling Flaherty- Comhairle na nÓg, Kenneth Bracken-Comhairle na nÓG, Cllr John Carroll- Cathaoirleach Offaly County Council, Anna Marie Delaney-C.E. Offaly County Council, Ann Sheeran - Tullamore Youth Project, Nate Condron - Tullamore Youth Project LGBTI+ pictured at the flag raising on Tuesday.

Communities in Offaly have come together to support LGBTI+ awareness week, running until November 20, which saw the raising of the LGBTI+ flag for the first time at Áras an Chontae Charleville Road, Tullamore by Cathaoirleach John Carroll and young people from the county.

Through the work of the Laois Offaly Children and Young People’s Services Committee there has been significant progress over the past year in developing LGBTI+ support groups for young people across Offaly.

The flag raising brought together the local LGBTI+ group provider Youth Work Ireland Midlands, Tullamore Youth Project, Offaly Comhairle na nOg , Chief Executive of Offaly County Council Anna Marie Delaney, and Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, Cllr John Carroll.

By marking Stand Up Awareness Week, Offaly is coming together to help create a friendlier, safer community for LGBTI+ young people.

Comhairle na nOg youth representatives Aishling Flaherty and Kenneth Bracken highlighted that LGTBI+ supports in the community is an important issue for young people and Comhairle are happy to support any initiatives that brings more awareness and inclusiveness.

“This is a great occasion for us all to support the LGBTI+ community locally, I am delighted that there are now two local groups in Tullamore and Edenderry youth services with appropriately trained staff, that are there to support the young people and their parents and families,” said Cllr John Carroll.

"There is now a youth LGBTI+ group through the Tullamore Youth Project that provides a targeted and needs based youth service to young people aged 10-24 years," added the Cathaoirleach.

Tullamore Youth Project offers a safe and inclusive space for LGBTI+ young people and LGBTI+ Allies aged between 10-24 years while also offering relevant information and guidance to parents and guardians regarding referral pathways, additional support services, training etc.

A youth led project, it provides a range of programmes designed by young people for young people. Due to Covid-19 health and safety protocols we are offering a blended service for young people who wish to attend programmes.

The blended way of working incorporates scheduled small groups indoors and detached outdoor programmes and online groups to facilitate larger groups. Operation of LGBTI+ service is weekdays from Tuesday to Friday in the evening and Saturday afternoons.

The location of the programme may vary depending on the specific programme and activity. Further enquires can be made to LGBTI+ Youth Worker: Aileen Costello on (087) 1457372 or Project Coordinator: Ann Sheeran on (086) 7955347. Information on programmes events and activities can be found on Social Media sites Facebook; @youthworkirelandmidlandstullamore and Instagram: @youthworkirelandtullamore

The Edenderry group can be contacted through Anna O’Neill Youth Worker at the Edenderry Youth Café, St. Mary’s Hall, Edenderry. Facebook : Edenderry Youthcafe. Edenderry LGBTI+ group meets once a week in Edenderry Youth Cafe. They have named the group 'Lets Grow Better Together'.

“At present we are a small group which allows us to still meet face to face each week, however our doors are open to new members,” Anna said.For any information on the group contact Anna on 087 6744463.

Chief Executive of Offaly County Council Anna Marie Delaney said she is pleased to see the progress in Offaly as the gap in LGBTI+ services was identified in the Local Community Plan and supported by the LCDC in Offaly with Dormant Accounts Funding this year working with the Children and Young People’s Services Committee, proving the value of interagency work for young people.

Laois Offaly Children and Young People’s Services Committee Co-Ordinator Niamh Dowler welcomed the new LGBTI+ groups in Offaly as a good example of collaborative working through the committee where Laois and Offaly services came together to support staff with LGBTI+ training, funding and provide resources for safe spaces locally for young people, allies and parents.