Developers of sports centre in honour of renowned Mayo athlete are lauded

ELECTED members of Ballina Municipal District have pledged to support the Dick Hearns Centre development at Abbeyhalfquarter and are considering ways in which they can do so.

Ballina Boxing Club will be anchor tenant of the centre, located adjacent to Ballina Community Sports Centre and Ballina Swimming Pool, but the state-of-the-art development will be available for use by all local sports clubs and community groups.

With planning permission on the cusp of running out, the Dick Hearns Centre committee decided to start construction of the project themselves after failing in a bid to secure LEADER funding.

“By the time they had finished their LEADER application they were exhausted,” noted Councillor Seamus Weir, cathaoirleach of Ballina MD.

“They are building the centre at their own expense, and I believe we need to do something to support them.”

Councillor Weir said the developers have a property for sale at Pawn Office Lane that the council could perhaps develop something out of.

On a wider point, Councillor Michael Loftus said LEADER were making it very difficult for groups to actually secure funding.

He noted that South West Mayo Development Company got three-quarters of LEADER grants, while Mayo North East Leader Partnership only secured one-quarter.

With the present LEADER scheme coming to an end, Councillor Loftus said he would encourage the Dick Hearns Centre to apply to the new scheme when it comes out.

He also said that while it wouldn't be big money, there may be some available via the Oweninny benefit fund.

Supporting his colleague, Councillor Mark Duffy said something needs to be done to support them financially.

Councillor Annie May Reape said she would have no problem supporting the developers, noting that they have 'good old building' for sale at Pawn Office Lane.

“I don't know exactly what we can do to help them but we should do our best,” said Councillor John O'Hara.

RENOWNED

The Dick Hearns Centre is named after a renowned athlete from Ballina who excelled in the codes of Gaelic football, soccer, athletics and, perhaps most notably, boxing.

He was a life-long advocate of the importance of physical fitness, particularly for young people.

The Dick Hearns Centre will be comprised of a two-storey, multi-purpose arena that will complement all existing sports and community facilities in the area while also augmenting the already growing multi-sports campus at Abbeyhalfquarter, which currently accommodates Ballina Community Sports Centre, Ballina Swimming Pool and Ballina Tennis Club.

A GoFundMe page has been created for anyone who wishes to make a donation towards the development online.

To find out more, search for the Dick Hearns Centre on the GoFundMe website.

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