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Agreement reached on purchase of Victoria House in Ballina


MARY ROBINSON CENTRE  An artist’s impression of how Victoria House will look on completion of the project

Mayo County Council last week confirmed that agreement has been reached on the purchase of Victoria House in Ballina.
Contracts and paperwork will be completed over the coming weeks and subject to all relevant requirements, construction of the Mary Robinson Centre will commence in November.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Brendan Mulroy welcomed the news as ‘a great step forward for what is an major project for Mayo’. He said ‘significant community support will be key to the success of this project’.
The Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes outlined: “This marks a significant development in the progress of the centre, a project which is of significant importance for Ireland in general and for Mayo in particular. We hope it will provide a national model for honoring and building on the contribution of significant civic figures in the country.”
Mayo County Council thanked Josepha Madigan TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for the significant contribution of €2m towards the costs and for her departments continued support on the project.
Speaking on behalf of the Board of the Victoria House Foundation, Chair Emer Gilvarry welcomed the news.
“The support of many – locally, nationally and internationally - has been vital in sustaining this project and bringing it to this important stage of development. As a Board, together with our partners at Mayo County Council and NUI Galway, we look forward to now creating a world-class centre for human rights, gender equality and climate change, exploring the life’s work and legacy of Mary Robinson in her childhood home here in Ballina.”
Mayo County Council added that further details in relation to the project will be published in the coming weeks.
‘Golden opportunity’
Fine Gael Ballina-based Senator, Michelle Mulherin, said she was ‘delighted’ with the confirmation that the Mary Robinson Centre in Ballina is to proceed and that construction is expected to start in November.
“This is a golden opportunity unique to Ballina, the birthplace of Mary Robinson. The project has wide support both locally and further afield and it is supported by the majority of councillors on Mayo County Council.
“The project has languished for far too long. It would have been a regrettable turn of events if it was not to proceed after the considerable work and resources committed to the project this far. We need to be developing tourism, cultural and heritage projects which will sustain the local economy of our town and environs into the future. Developing a centre based on the work of Mary Robinson is obvious, to honour her work as a past Irish president and former UN Commissioner for Human Rights but also on the basis of her ongoing human rights work in areas such as climate justice, equality, women’s rights and the rights of refugees.”
Newly elected Independent councillor, Mark Duffy, that it was fitting that the childhood home of Mary Robinson had been purchased by Mayo County Council.
“Victoria House will be modeled on libraries of former US presidents and become home to the Mary Robinson Centre which will include a museum, archive, research/educational facility and events venue.
“Ballina will benefit from having a presidential centre that will attract visitors and academics promoting issues that Mary Robinson has long advocated for including human rights, women’s leadership and climate justice.
“With an under representation of women in politics, I hope that the centre can help to inspire the next generation of women to become future leaders in our country,” added Cllr Duffy.