Member of the European Parliament and Former Minister of Social Welfare, Prionsias De Rossa, returned to the Fr. McGrath Centre this week for the first time since his first visit fifteen years when he presided at the official opening of the Fr. McGrath Community Rescouce Centre in what was then little more than a derelict building.
As Minister, Prionisias gave the project their first break when he gave the local community group a small capital grant to help them launch their ambitious plan to save the building for use as a community and family support centre.
Flanked by Labour Party candidates Ann Phelan and Des Hurley, at the centre he told a large crowd of volunteers and residents that the government had received a spectacular return for their money and he could never have imagined the range and quality of community, children and family support services now operating from the very impressive three story community centre.
He said the Fr. McGrath Centre has since earned themselves a well deserved national reputation as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ and their innovation with education support services for kids ant risk of falling out of school was been studied by many community development groups across Ireland.
Labour party election hopefuls, Anne Phelan and Des Hurley told the community groups voluntary Board that if elected they were assured of the full support of the Labour party for the innovative work they were doing with children falling behind in school and at risk of leaving school early.
‘If this country is to meet the daunting challenges we face in coming years then we can only succeed by strengthening and encouraging the kind of community and statutory partnership this enterprising family centre has developed to address the serious social issues facing many Irish families’ said Ann Phelan.
She also acknowledged the very special role played by the FAS C.E. scheme and their former supervisor, Joe Butler, in making the project a reality.
The former Minister and Labour Party candidates also met with transition year students from the Loreto Convent as part of their city wide campaign to raise awareness of the children’s educational services being run by volunteers at the centre and the impact that the scrapping of the national ‘Children at Risk’ grant will have on the centre and their local children’s services.