Belfast Telegraph

Row over facility sees kids locked out of playgroup

By Donna Deeney

Children have been locked out of a playgroup while two groups of adults battle over who is to run a facility in Inishowen.

The dispute over Quigley's Point Community Centre is now in its sixth day since staff from the Children's Point Childcare Centre (CPCC) entered the premises and changed the locks as they stage a round the clock sit-in.

The private company had been running a playgroup there since 2009, but were served a notice to quit in April this year by the board of Quigley's Point Community Centre (QPCC) who informed the firm they would take over the|provision of childcare.

At the end of June this year, CPCC handed over the keys and vacated the premises. They applied for planning permission to open a similar facility nearby, but there has been an objection.

Meanwhile, new staff were appointed by QPCC and last Thursday the first intake of children arrived at the playgroup.

However, the following day staff from CPCC returned, said they were not accepting the notice to quit and demanded the return of the keys. When they were refused, they had the locks to the room changed and have been there since.

Last Saturday, parents and children arrived at the centre demanding the youngsters be allowed back into their playgroup.

Caoimhe Doherty, whose three-year-old daughter Ava is among the kids still waiting to get back into the group, was among the crowd of locals who turned up at the community centre on Saturday. She said it is the children who are being hurt.

“My daughter is so confused by all of this. She was at playgroup last Thursday and Friday but now she can't get back in because the doors are locked.

“People within the village feel strongly about this, which is why so many of us turned up on Saturday to show our support for the staff of the community centre. As the banners read, all we want is our playgroup back.”

The CPCC refused a request for an interview but issued a statement from its chairwoman, Nancy McCauley which read: “Our tenancy will continue without any interruption to the activities of QPCC outside our rooms.

“We have always been mindful of the welfare of all the children but we were faced with no alternative but to take action.”

QPCC board member Seamus McGranaghan said he is at a loss as to how the current situation can be resolved.

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