Following weeks of unfortunate news coverage of the village of Rooskey, this week its future looks all the brighter. Rooskey Development and Social Inclusion Group, the company which operates the Rooskey Community and Tourist Centre, has confirmed that a major capital investment plan has progressed to an advanced stage. The state-of-the-art development is currently at the pre-planning stage of development and the company’s management is hopeful that they will be successful in their efforts to progress the project to the planning, funding, and construction phases over the next couple of years.
Despite issues regarding the provision of afterschool services at the facility (see page 13 across), the future looks bright for the community centre. The Democrat can reveal that plans have been drawn up for what looks like a significant extension to the facility which will create more space, facilities, and put in place more resources for the people of Rooskey and the surrounding areas.
The plans, if implemented, would see the hall of the building increase by 2/3s its current size. In addition to this, the proposed development will include a community café, new office space, multi-purpose rooms, state-of-the-art meeting and conferencing facilities, and a business hub. The proposed development would see improved facilities for young people, older people, and people from every walk of life in the community.
It is envisaged by the management, that in addition to the existing classes and group activities which use the facility, even more, could be done in the “heart of the community” especially with respect to encouraging local talent in the creative and artistic sectors. As part the development, facilities would be developed to allow groups put on plays, show movies on a big screen, hold indoor events and conferences, and be able to do so in a state-of-the-art building with all the latest technologies at their disposal.
Rooskey Development and Social Inclusion Group intend to see ambitious development through to fruition over the coming years. Just over 10-years ago, the current management oversaw the extension of the building as part of an almost half-million-euro project, and now the new exciting plans will hopefully mean more good news for Rooskey and its community centre. However, due to delays which have been caused by certain issues which have arisen, securing funding for the ambitious project has been made more difficult.
To date, the plans have been delayed by almost 6-months and have potentially jeopardised the project but management have been working with the project funders to find solutions to the problems. The proposed project funder is Roscommon LEADER Partnership, and management of the facility have been very complimentary of the Roscommon LEADER: “They have been very understanding and patient with us during this process. LEADER seem to understand that Rooskey is a key village which can be developed in order to boost the economic fortunes of the North-West of the County. LEADER has always been committed to assisting Rooskey in its overall development.”
“All groups welcome at the Rooskey centre”
This week, management of the company which operates Rooskey community centre have expressed deep concern at “unflattering commentary” of the centre in recent weeks. In a press release to the Democrat, the company confirmed that the afterschool service, which they operated from the community centre for over a decade until the end of the 2018 school year, relocated to new premises due to circumstances outside of their control. The service relocated on the 3rd of December 2018. The management of the Rooskey Centre hit back at recent commentary which implied the management of the company were in some way responsible for the afterschool service relocating to Kilglass GAA club, 3-kilometers away.
According to the press statement the company wants to be “...absolutely clear – we never asked the afterschool service to move, they never notified us that they were leaving the premises prior to vacating the premises, we did everything we could to facilitate the afterschool service in the community centre, as far as we are concerned there was absolutely no need for the service to move. It moving was, as far as we are concerned, unnecessary.”
Speaking with the management of the community centre this week, the Democrat was told that while some reports in the media have implied that the service had to move because no agreement could be reached with regards to a license agreement between the facility management and the afterschool service committee, this is not the case. In excess of ten community groups use the facility on a weekly basis, and in addition to these regular users, ad hoc meetings and events utilise the facilities though-out the year, all without the need for a lease/license agreement to be in place.
Speaking to the Democrat, the company emphasized: “Every group that wants to use the community centre does so on an equitable basis. The rates for using the facilities are applied to each group proportionally, to ensure fairness in access to the building for the entire community. It is true that initially, we felt perhaps a license agreement would be required as a new committee began operating the afterschool service in September 2018, simply to satisfy the conditions of our lease with the leaser. However, when the new committee didn’t agree to the terms of that license agreement initially, we took further advice and were informed that if we entered into a license agreement with one group, we might, technically, have to do so with each group that uses the facility. A prospect which was simply untenable. Ultimately, the decision was taken that a license agreement wasn’t required, and the afterschool service could continue to operate in the centre on the basis of a verbal agreement, the same as every other group.”
The company who has been managing and developing the community centre for almost 20-years now claim that it was made abundantly clear to the afterschool service, at all times, that they could continue using the centre to provide the services, five days a week. They also claim that at all times, they offered whatever support they could to the committee.
Due to staffing issues, which were the result of changes in eligibility criteria set out by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, in 2017, the management became aware that the staffing of the afterschool service was going to become problematic in the short-term. Despite trojan efforts by the management to solve the staffing issues, a solution could not be found. Twenty-one applicants came forward but the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection did not approve any of them, on the basis that they did not satisfy the eligibility criteria for the scheme which was in place.
If the service was to continue, it was suggested that it would have to do so on a private basis. It is understood that the new committee, which parents formed, did this until late 2018 in the Rooskey Centre, before moving the service to Kilglass Gael GAA clubhouse, 3-kilometers away. In late 2018, two workers were approved and funded under the Community Employment Scheme, and it is understood that they now staff the service in the new facility.
While it has been suggested that a lease/license agreement was required to be in place in order to avail of the CE Scheme workers, this does not appear to be the case according to correspondence which the Democrat has seen between INTREO (Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection) and the management of the Rooskey Centre.
Concluding their remarks in relation to the perceived controversy relating to the afterschool service, the company said: “This centre is available for use, at all times, by any group within the community, as has always been the case. All groups are welcome at the Rooskey Centre. Rooskey Development and Social Inclusion Group CLG is a company limited by guarantee. We have leased the Rooskey Centre, on a long-term lease form the Diocese of Elphin. The company has always complied with good governance practices as per our articles and memorandums of association.”
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