Blog:Monday 24th September- Second Best Day of my Political Life!

Yesterday, Monday 24th September, was the second best day of my political life to date. My best day was the day we got the grant aid to allow the opening of Bailieborough Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre and reassure very generous local sponsors. That grant was approved by the then Minister Bernard Allen in the John Bruton led Government. That Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre transformed Bailieborough and East Cavan, effecting quality of life and employment and the local economy. Yesterday, the Dun Ui Neill Army Barracks was transferred to Cavan VEC for €1.25 million, put up by the Department of Education. This new facility will be transformational for Cavan VEC and County Cavan. That’s why it was the second best day of my political life. I want to salute the vision and tenacity of the VEC Chairperson and CEO Madeleine Argue and Colm McEvoy. I want to thank Government Ministers, Alan Shatter and Ruairi Quinn and their Officials for giving effect to that vision.
Why will this purchase be transformational? The sixteen acre site and state of the art building will allow the outstanding Cavan Institute develop, grow and provide a quality education to the young people of the region. It will provide a centre for training under the newly established Solus. It will be an adult Education centre and provide facilities for Sports Clubs and local organisations. The sixteen acre site includes a developed football pitch, the Barracks itself has a state of the art Gym, Sports Hall, general purpose hall, kitchen, chapel, office accommodation and many potential classrooms. It is a modern building, has car parking and has enormous potential. Cavan VEC will develop it incrementally as money becomes available. Of course it is ready for immediate occupation and that will happen.
Dun Ui Neill Barracks has been a landmark building in Cavan. The Defence Forces occupied it and served our community faithfully. We feel a strong connection with them and fondly remember that they provided security during a perilous time in history. They served abroad on crucial Peace Keeping missions, they were and are an integral part of local communities where they contribute hugely, they and their families will be happy that the Barracks is to remain in Public Ownership. They will be delighted that it is to go on serving the community.
I look forward to seeing confident students walking out of its gates, carrying their bags and laptops. I look forward to the growth of our College and training. I look forward to the construction jobs that will be created as conversion work is done. The impact on the local economy will continue for many a day.

Yesterday morning, before attending the handover of the Barracks to Cavan VEC, I had the privilege of visiting a beautiful house in Lavey where ‘Extern’ works under the auspices of the VEC providing support to thirty-five young people who are coping with particular difficulties be they social, emotional, family difficulty or the result of substance abuse. These young people are at risk on a number of fronts and come referred by Social Workers. The house provides a haven for them. They are in a safe environment and can chill out. They are provided with love and support, qualified personnel works directly with the individual young people giving them self-esteem, a social life and introducing them to recreational activities. They also support their participation in school or Youth Reach. I was very impressed by the entire experience and by meeting the professionals who provide the service.

After the Barracks handover, I attended the County Cavan Policing Forum where we heard presentations from Foroige and Comhairle Na nOg. These young people were inspirational, had vision and leadership capacity. Their practical idealism and optimism was infatious and I salute both groups.
Yesterday was a truly special and memorable day. It gave me a renewed energy and will provide insulation for some stormier ones ahead.

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website