Huge disappointment has been expressed by leaders of the Attic youth cafe in Longford town this week.
Despite visits by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the new Minister for Children, Charlie Flanagan, to the cafe inside seven days of each other, funding for the development of the club’s new centre on the Ballinalee Road failed to materialise.
Minister Flanagan told members of the club last Wednesday that while he was “100% committed” to the youth cafe, he could not commit to the provision of funding at this stage.
“I am very pleased to be here and to look at the plans for the new building which is now at an advanced stage,” the Minister pointed out to the Longford Leader. “As far as I can see, this is one of the biggest youth projects in the midlands and really is outstanding.”
Minister Flanagan also added, “I am not able to commit to funding at this stage; but I will advance this project”.
“My department is anxious to ensure that there is a network of youth facilities across the country and Co Longford is one of the areas that has been earmarked for this,” he continued. “I will ensure that the new building purchased by Attic youth cafe will become a reality - we are now entering a path towards economic growth and this government is committed to employment in the midlands. Young people need space and I would be anxious that first class facilities for young people in Longford are secured.”
Ruth McGarry-Quinn, a Leader at the Attic, expressed her disappointment to the Leader on Friday. She indicated the fight to develop the building was not over and the club would continue to fundraise until such time as money was allocated by the Department.
“We are disappointed,” she said, adding “I appreciate Charlie Flanagan is only new in the job, but the reality is that he was not briefed properly on the project”.
She went on to say that the Minister committed to meeting with leaders later this year to advance proceedings further. However she remained steadfast in her belief that €275,000 was now required to bring the new building in line with appropriate facilities for the club. “We were led to believe that Minister Flanagan was coming down to make some sort of announcement, but he didn’t,” she said. “I am an optimist, so I believe there will be a positive outcome to all of this.”
A fundraiser for the youth cafe takes place on June 7 next at 6pm in Longford rugby Club. ‘The Eliminator Challenge’ will bring the county out in force in support of the club, and will see teams of 10 battle it out for victory on the night. THere will be 30 teams in all and each participant is required to raise €100 in sponsorship. Contact (087) 2626806 for more details.