COMMUNITY activists in Ferrybank are fighting back looking for facilities and resources which will help to combat crippling levels of unemployment in the area.
Ferrybank in South Kilkenny has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country but it’s residents are determined to build a brighter future. Members of the Ferrybank Action Group attended a meeting of the Piltown Electoral Area last Friday.
According to national figures 432 males and 403 females were unemployed in Ferrybank in April.
Chairman Cllr Pat Dunphy told the meeting that he shared the concerns of everyone about the unopened shopping centre. “I would propose that both local authorities work together to meet the needs of our community,” he said.
Melissa O’Neill, who is a single mother who recently set up her own business told the members that Ferrybank lacked facilites and outlined the need for a medical centre, a gym and an indoor playground and creche.
Community worker, John Kiely told the meeting that during the boom years over 50% of people working in the area were employed in the construction and manufacturing industries. “Ferrybank was very badly hit by the recession. The construction industry collapsed, Waterford Crystal was gone and a number of other factories closes down. The shopping centre would be a very goods source of employment,” he said adding that he was involved in running a pre-employment course which is aimed at getting people back into the workforce.
Another member Sabrina Grace outlined the need for a playground and told members that a site had been identified close to ALDI. “There are over 300 children living in Ferrybank area especially in Abbeylands and Belmont. At the moment people have to travel forty minutes to go to a playground and it costs money to get there which is difficult for parents especially lone parents,” she added. Cllr Pat Dunphy agreed that there should ‘definitely be a playground’ and Cllr Eamon Alyward complimented the deputation on their presentation and on giving the community a voice.
Anna Marie Irish told members that both Kilmacow and Mooncoin had constructed playgrounds in recent times adding that she hoped that the same would materialise for Ferrybank. Mr Kiely told the group that they had tried to get funding from Leader for a park and a playground but that no suitable site had benn found. Cllr Dunphy added that if the council could find a site that would be ‘a great help’. Cllr Tomas Breatnach confirmed that there was money available through the Leader Partnership and she said that the board were currently going through a draft policy on playgrounds. “The fact that two local authorities are working together on this is a positive and not a negative thing. There is also huge potential to incorporate community facilities into the shopping centre,” he added.