Murphy to meet Libraries NI over Crossmaglen Library cuts fear

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Friday, January 27th, 2012

Amid fears of cuts to Crossmaglen library, MP for the area Conor Murphy has secured an urgent meeting with the Chief Executive of Libraries NI following speculation that Crossmaglen Library may face a cut of up to ten hours. Speaking to Newry Times, Mr Murphy said, “People in Crossmaglen are surprised and somewhat angered by this news but I am hopeful of making a good case to Libraries NI during my meeting with the Chief Executive next Friday for re-examination of these savage cuts. For Libraries NI to base their decision solely on numbers of people through a library door is fundamentally flawed against those libraries which opened fewer hours to begin with.”

Murphy continued, “Crossmaglen Library hours of operation were 27.5 hours per week to begin with so to compare its footfall against a library open 60 hours per week is wrong. If Crossmaglen’s hours are cut there is a much reduced possibility of it increasing its number of users in the future and I fear this could begin a cycle of further cuts down the line. In addition, figures published on the 18th January by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment state that the Crossmaglen ward has the second highest unemployment figure in the Newry & Mourne area at 9.3%.  This compares with a Newry Armagh average of 5.8% and the average across the North of 5.1%. To cut services in an area already experiencing such levels of disadvantage is unconscionable.”

“As well as employment issues, Crossmaglen and its hinterland has historically suffered a lack of investment due to its peripherality and the current public transport provision is disgracefully scant. This, coupled with a rising birth rate, makes a clear case for retention of services and indeed I am aware that mitigating circumstances were taken into consideration regarding Castlederg Library. I know that the Minister allocated an additional £2.39 million for the retention of rural services in particular and I will be making a strong case when I meet the Chief Executive of Libraries NI that the severe cuts to Crossmaglen be re-examined,” Murphy added.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Terry Hearty also urged the public to make their voices heard in support of the library. He said, “It is vital that we start a campaign to stop cuts to Crossmaglen Library. Sinn Féin activists will be calling to people’s doors to gather a petition of names over the coming weeks and petitions will also be left in shops in the town. I would encourage everyone to become a member of the library or to renew membership if it has expired.”

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