Residents protest over running of Limerick adult education centre

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Local residents held a protest at St Mary's Adult Education Centre last week
Residents staged a demonstration during the annual general meeting of the St Mary’s Park Adult Education Centre.

Residents staged a demonstration during the annual general meeting of the St Mary’s Park Adult Education Centre.

A crowd of around 30 people gathered outside the Island Road centre in protest at the way they feel the scheme is being run.

They feel the centre, which exists to provide education and recreational activities to the local population, is not working to its full potential.

And many have said they feel excluded from attending meetings at the centre, with one board member, Marion Maloney joining the protest after she claimed she was never notified of the meeting.

The centre pays out around €250,000 to 17 staff members, with the funding coming from a mix of public sources, including FAS and City Council.

In response, members of the King’s Island community have set up a rival community centre, called D’Hub.

Despite this, one of the protestors, Mary Donnelly says she still wants to se the adult education centre thrive.

She said the aim of their protest on Thursday was to try and get the AGM rescheduled - believing that because 21 days notice had not been given, it was not being held legally.

“We just hope at the next AGM that we will be invited, and it will have proper representation from the community. We would hope some of our members could be elected into officers roles so we can advance the centre to a position that t is not in at the moment,” she explained.

Ms Donnelly added that members of the community are “very distressed” about the manner in which the centre is being run.

“Essentially it is not being used. Public funds are being used, and it is not benefiting anybody,” she added.

Independent councillor Gerry McLoughlin, a community activist in the area earlier this year sent a letter demanding the removal of two directors from the board of management at the centre.

He wanted to be installed on the board himself. It was this matter which led to him quitting the Labour party, claiming a lack of support.

Speaking at the protest, he said: “There has been no involvement in anybody apart from a couple of people who have invited themselves as directors and sponsors, and not giving out any welcome to anyone to join the board, which is important if you want to empower people.”

Among the protestors was a young man dressed up as Mickey Mouse, of Disney fame. He claimed that this was a message to the board - that they are “taking the mickey” out of the community.

Tony Ryan, who chairs the adult education centre, declined to comment when approached by the Limerick Leader.