PARISH PRIEST WANTS SALE STOPPED
The parish priest of Mitchelstown, Fr Michael Fitzgerald and a local school liaison officer have this week called for a halt to be put to the proposed sale of Forrest Hall in the town. Fr Michael Fitzgerald is appalled at the proposed sale of Forrest Hall by Cork County Council.
“A few years ago a youth survey was carried out in Mitchelstown regarding services in the town. It found that sport was well catered for, but it also found that around 20% of boys and girls were not involved in any sport at all. The need for a social centre and meeting place for the youth was identified as a priority for Mitchelstown,” Fr Fitzgerald told The Avondhu.
Kathleen O’Brien, a home school community liaison officer in the North Cork area, echoed the PP’s concerns, “Teenagers are out at the weekends and they have nowhere to go and nothing to do. This is leading to antisocial behaviour.
"When I started teaching in Mitchelstown many years ago now there were two cinemas, a swimming pool and a dance hall, there was something to do and somewhere to go. All the local public representatives know that we need these facilities for the youth in Mitchelstown.”
“Forrest Hall is becoming a political football. There are no services or facilities for the young in Mitchelstown it’s as simple as that. The hall was sold to the community and the plan was to develop the building as a town resource.
“The local boxing club is looking for a place to train and have offered to pay rent and make any repairs that are needed to Forrest Hall. Our public representatives have ignored the needs of the people of Mitchelstown.” Ms O’Brien continued.
Back in 2002, Dairygold sold Forrest Hall to Cork County Council. At that time, seven years ago, it is believed by Fr Fitzgerald that plans were drawn up to use the building to provide youth facilities and a library for Mitchelstown.
It was also envisaged that Ballyhoura Development would staff a tourist office in Forrest Hall. It remained empty and unused for seven years and today Forrest Hall is up for sale. While Mitchelstown is to have its new library at Sutton’s Court no plans appear to be in place to provide the much need facilities for the youth of the town.
Fr Fitzgerald told The Avondhu, “All our public representatives were made aware of this urgent need in the town, for various reasons, years have gone by and Forrest Hall has remained empty and without use. As the parish priest of Mitchelstown, I would like to appeal to the county manager and to all our public servants to give priority to our youth in these critical times. Forrest Hall is in an ideal location and has great potential for development available for the youth of Mitchelstown.”
“As a community, the support, care and protection of our youth must be a priority. Neighbouring towns have acquired two full-time youth workers, surely we here in Mitchelstown are entitled to one?”
Cllr Frank O’Flynn (FF) told The Avondhu, “Cork County Council has an ideal opportunity to provide much needed facilities for the youth of Mitchelstown and I will be putting a motion at the next full meeting of the council to the effect that Forrest Hall should be used for the youth of the town.”
A spokesperson for Cork County Council said, “The council has planned for a new library in Mitchelstown for quite some time. The unit at Sutton’s Court has been identified as the perfect location.
"However, with the current financial situation if we are to progress with setting up of a new library, the sale of Forrest Hall must go through to provide the funds for the facility. When Forrest Hall was purchased from Dairygold the plans were for it to be used as a library, nothing more.”
So did the Cork County Council buy Forrest Hall to just let it stand empty? Cllr Liam O’Doherty (FG) feels that the sale of Forrest Hall will be good for Mitchelstown, “Forrest Hall simply isn’t suitable for the type of library that we need in Mitchelstown, there are major issues for example with access and the cost of getting it up to spec where just to high.”
Fr Michael Fitzgerald concluded, “I am not against the library. We need the library very much but I think it’s unfair not to look at the needs of the young people of our town. We can’t afford not to do something for our youth.”
Friday 10th April 1:03pm