‘Fight to regain control’ of Parish Community Centre

‘Fight to regain control’ of Parish Community Centre

RESIDENTS have asked people to come forward and join them in the “fight to regain control” of a local community centre.

A new management structure was installed at Rowlagh Parish Community Centre last December, after South Dublin County Council granted an interim management licence for South Dublin County Partnership to manage the Neilstown centre.

According to residents in the Rowlagh CC committee, the decision was taken without any consultation with the local community.

The committee also “resent the suggestion of miss-management” by the council and are concerned that they will not have any say in what groups can use the facility under a new management structure.

John O’Halloran, a local resident involved in the committee, said the closure of the facility during Covid fractured the ability to maintain a close relationship with the community.

“We have been hampered by Covid, at the moment we are trying to get the community together and hope to get a meeting with residents, until such time as people elect a new committee,” he said.
“Pre-Covid, outgoings were €500 per week, including heating, lighting, maintenance. That belies the council suggestion of miss-management.”

The Echo understands the centre did re-open partially in February for a pre-school group.

Rowlagh CC (the Parish in the name was later dropped) was established in the bleak economic period of the 1980s, at a time when Neilstown was one of the most deprived areas in the country, with no shops, no schools, no buses, and high unemployment.

The committee say local fundraising efforts was key to the creation of the community centre, along with a Dublin County Council grant of £20k, and £60k from the National Lottery to eventually bring the project to fruition in 1989.

A debt of £36k to the bank was cleared in less than three years. Since then, a wide variety of local groups and organisations have utilised the centre.

“At first, we had a very active management committee but over the years fewer and fewer people got involved. For the past several years only two people remained involved, Mick Simpson and Jimmy Hannigan. The community owes Mick and Jimmy a huge debt of gratitude,” said Mr O’Halloran.

The committee acknowledge the “modest start up grant” Dublin City Council provided in the 1980s and are “thankful” South Dublin County Council refurbished the building a few years ago “but refurbishing the building did not confer ownership on them, it is still our centre.”

The committee are asking for people to “join their fight to regain control of our, or more accurately, of your centre”.

“It is vital that the community take an active interest in the centre, how it is run and managed and also to decide what activities take place there,” they said in a joint statement.

Anyone who would like to get involved, can text their details to any of the following numbers – 086 2658306, 087 6471406 or 087 7747928.

A spokesperson for South Dublin County Council said: “The council have been engaging for a number of months with local representatives from the Rowlagh area in relation to the running of the local community centre with a local oversight committee proposed comprising some of these representatives together with council staff and centre management.

“This follows the recent granting of an interim management licence to South Dublin County Partnership to carry out the management functions of the centre including post Covid restoration of local community activities as well as the necessary financial management and governance.”

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