In this episode of ‘A Question of Faith’ we hear about the good work of Accord and a panel discusses the recently announced cut of all State funding for their pre-marriage courses.
Accord is an agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The first Accord centre was founded in Belfast in 1962. Accord aims to promote a deeper understanding of Christian marriage and offers people the means to safeguard and nourish their marriage and family relationships. ACCORD operates in 55 centres throughout the island of Ireland – North and South – and is committed to providing a professional service.
Bishop Denis Nulty, President of Accord Catholic marriage care service, has confirmed that Tusla, the government’s child and family agency, wrote to Accord on 7 May 2015 to advise that “Following confirmation of Tusla’s budget for 2015 by Minister Reilly on 27 April … a decision has been made to withdraw funding for Marriage Preparation Courses from 2015 onwards.”
The Tusla funding for Accord marriage preparation courses in 2015 would have amounted to €360,000.
Statement by Bishop Nulty – President of Accord
“I am very disappointed that Tusla has made this funding decision which will certainly undermine a vital service provided to women and men preparing for marriage.
“The Tusla decision is all the more perplexing as demand for Accord marriage preparation courses has increased year-on-year over the last five years, with over 15,500 men and women participating in 2014. Feedback from those attending our courses has consistently been very positive, with participants often describing them as informative and beneficial, and providing an important opportunity to share concerns with other soon-to-be-married people concerning the many challenges facing marriage and family life.
“Marriage preparation helps to sustain the celebration of love which is at the core of the life-long commitment publicly declared by a woman and man, to each other, on their wedding day. Accord offers quality marriage preparation courses which include modules on family of origin and self-awareness; communication and conflict; commitment and the sacrament of marriage; sexuality and intimacy; and, good parenting. In this way marriage preparation also serves the common good. The Tusla decision to withdraw its funding is an obvious retrograde step for society, and I ask that it be reversed immediately”.
Bishop Nulty concluded, “On 20 January last I, along with a delegation from Accord, met with Mr James Reilly TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, and his senior officials, to discuss Accord’s key services: marriage preparation and marriage and relationship counselling. We highlighted the fact that, since 2011, Accord’s grant aid has been reduced by more than 42% at a time when there has been an increase in demand for our services due to the harsh impact of the recession on families. It was a constructive meeting and our request to reverse budget cuts was received in a positive spirit. In the light of our meeting with Minister Reilly, Tusla’s decision to withdraw funding for Accord’s marriage preparation courses from January of this year, is all the more baffling. I would like to meet with the Minister again, at his earliest convenience, to ask for a reinstatement of funding for Accord’s marriage preparation courses.”