Minister of State with responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, has announced further details of the new funding approved by Cabinet young people with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds to embark on tall ship training voyages.
Joined by Minister of State with responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath, Minister Kehoe announced the provision of a grant of €85,000 in 2019 and again in 2020 which will go towards youth development in Sail Training Ireland’s charitable programme.
The objective of sail training is youth development rather than just teaching people to sail, which the ministers underline as an important distinction.
In 2018, Sail Training Ireland placed 341 young people on sail training vessels, over 90% of whom were from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Sail Training Ireland does not own or operate is own vessels, but charters as required. This is a different model to the state’s previous sail training vessel, the Asgard, which sank off the coast of France in 2008.
Trainees are selected by nominating organisations such as the HSE, Garda Diversion Projects, Tulsa, Irish Wheelchair Association and the Irish Refugee Council. A total of 37 nominating organisations provided trainees for placement in 2018.
Skills such as communication, leadership, confidence and teamwork are all developed when on board a sail training vessel.
Sail Training Ireland also facilitates young people with a disability to avail of the sail training experience. In 2018 over 25% of those placed on voyages were young people with a disability.
In terms of gender balance, of the 341 trainees in 2018, 185 were young men with 156 young women. Trainees have also come from over 25 counties in Ireland which includes five in Northern Ireland.
The new funding for this year and next has the potential to deliver an additional 50 places for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in each of those years.
Speaking at an event onboard the Brian Ború vessel at Poolbeg Yacht Club in Dublin today (Friday 11 January), Minister Kehoe commented: “Many of the young people that will selected for these projects have experienced significant difficulties and hardships in their lives.
“In some instances, the opportunities provided by Sail Training Ireland have allowed young people to turn their lives around.
“I would like to commend the work that Sail Training Ireland has undertaken in recent years and wish them well as we face into a new year.”
Minister McGrath added: “Sail Training Ireland once again have shown their commitment to working with people with a disability and I am delighted to be part of today's event.
"Officials from the Department of Defence are engaging with the chief executive and chairman of Sail Training Ireland to ensure child safeguarding procedures are in place and to finalise appropriate governance and financial requirements, in advance of the grant being paid.
"At the end of two year period, a review of the outputs and outcomes of the expenditure will be undertaken by my department."