The Clare branch of the Irish Red Cross has officially opened its new HQ and training facility in Ennis.
For the first time in almost 80 years, the voluntary organisation now has a home they can call their own.
The facility, at Trackland’s Business Park in Tobartaoscáin, was officially opened at the weekend and was purchased from well known businessman Seamus Durack. The building will house the group’s fleet of vehicles and host training courses for members.
The €235,000 project has been several years in the planning and the building was officially signed over to the group last April. The facility was formally opened to the public on Sunday.
Up to now, the group had been paying €20,000 a year in rent but with this now behind them, a mortgage on the new facility has still to be paid. It’s hoped that with public support, this 12-year mortgage can be paid off in eight years or less.
Clare area treasurer and campaign coordinator James Lafferty said: “We in Irish Red Cross in Clare are proud to present out new Training Unit and Ambulance Centre which will be a benefit to the organisation’s members in Clare and future members. This building will boost the profile of the Irish Red Cross in Clare and this in turn will have a future positive benefit to volunteer membership and our ability to provide services.”
Clare Independent TF Dr. Michael Harty TD said: “The Irish Red Cross is one of our finest voluntary organisations I congratulate them on the opening of their new training unit and ambulance centre in Ennis. At a time when State health and community services are failing to deliver, we need the voluntary sector more than ever. Society would be a dismal space without community and parish councils, the GAA, youth organisations, Clarecare, tidy towns committees and the many other bodies who provide valuable services for no reward.”
Speaking at the opening of the new centre Dr. Harty said the Red Cross has an honoured place in Ireland and we need to recognise an inherent value in the Red Cross and other voluntary organisations.
“Two years ago, I attended the unveiling of the new community support vehicle by Red Cross Clare. The unfairness of having to pay VAT on the purchase of that vehicle was a big issue for the committee and fundraisers. Indeed, this was a problem faced by all charities that the funds they raised from voluntary contributions were taxed when they purchased equipment.
“Two years later we now have a VAT compensation scheme which allows charities to claim a proportion of that VAT back. I was lucky enough to be able to persuade the Minister for Finance to set up such a scheme, which I hope will develop over the years to allow charities to claim all VAT on their fund-raising expenditure,” Dr. Harty said.
“Red Cross Clare are tirelessly fund raising with goal of providing a community service for the most vulnerable of our citizens – those who are sick and unwell – this is a very worthy undertaking and requires a lot of effort. The Red Cross provide a free service in bringing patients to hospital appointments or for admission. These are patients who do not have any other means of travelling, thus the Red Cross supports our health and ambulance service in meeting patients needs,” he added.
Funding raising for the Red Cross is never ending. They are now embarking on another campaign to help pay the bank loan of €235,000 and interest to pay for new building. Dr. Harty said they need and deserve all the support we can give them.
The Red Cross in Clare is currently seeking new members. Visit their Facebook page for me information.