THERE is an obligation on Mayo County Council to aid Castlebar Order of Malta in securing a new building in the town. That was the unanimous opinion from councillors at the January meeting of Castlebar Municipal District.
Members of the Order of Malta branch in Castlebar attended the monthly meeting with Donal Geraghty of the branch outlining the organisation’s current status.
The group are operating out of a premises on Pavillion Road, built in 1988 on the back of fundraising efforts by the organisation. However, the building is subsiding and insurance does not cover this.
Mr Geraghty told the meeting that the group provided assistance at 92 events in Castlebar last year and provided transport for 28 outpatients from Mayo University Hospital.
The meeting heard that the organisation requires approximately €200,000 to purchase a new building, or if Mayo County Council sourced a building, the organisation would vouch to be caretakers of the premises and allow other organisations to use the facility.
Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne commended the organisation for its ‘excellent work’.
“We have loads of properties but one is as bad as the other, the old library, etc. The obligation is on the Council to assist,” said Cllr Kilcoyne.
Fianna Fáil councillor Blackie Gavin echoed his colleague’s sentiments saying the ‘onus’ was on the Council to do something and suggested the Military Barracks.
Cllr Al McDonnell (FF) said the Council owed the organisation a ‘debt of gratitude’ adding that their ‘tremendous work must be recognised’.
Fine Gael’s Cyril Burke suggested a short term lease of a building by the Council until a more permanent option becomes available.
Independent councillor Frank Durcan suggested the Military Barracks as a suitable building, one which used to house the organisaton in the 1950s.
“The Barracks would be a very suitable location. It has been a white elephant since we took it over. People are looking for buildings. I propose we give them first option,” said Cllr Durcan.
Cllr Gavin seconded the proposal and Cllr Durcan requested a report on the matter for the next monthly meeting.
Senior Executive Officer John McHale told the members of the voluntary organisation that the Executive are prepared to meet them to discuss options.