Local hopes for education centre at St Peter’s complex
A suggestion that the vast St Peter’s complex in Castlepollard be turned into an education centre arose at the September meeting of the Municipal District of Mullingar Kinnegad.
The proposal was made by Cllr Denis Leonard, who said that Castlepollard Local Development has already been exploring the idea, and he urged the district to assist by mentoring and offering architectural advice.
Cllr Leonard explained that what is being envisaged is the re-purposing of the complex for the benefit of the local community as an educational training centre.
If achieved, he said, it would be with a view to offering apprenticeships, traineeships, Just Transition courses, that would benefit people to gain employment or start their own businesses and thus strengthen the local economy,
The official written response provided by the district did not provide much encouragement.
It stated that its Regeneration Section at present is working with the Castlepollard Regeneration Group to progress the proposed town park and refurbishment of the Market House.
“A funding agreement in the order of €5.8m has been agreed with the Department of Rural and Community Development to progress the projects under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund,” the reply stated, before going on to add that the Community Section is also working with the local community on the development of a community centre funded under the Community Recognition Fund.
“These projects are the priority projects in the short-term for Castlepollard,” the reply concluded.
Cllr Leonard argued that it is important to provide educational opportunities in areas other than just the south of the county, as is the case at present.
“I think the northern part of our county gets very neglected – and so does the east in fact, in terms of education development, and I think there’s a fantastic opportunity in that area, in St Peter’s in Castlepollard,” he said.
Cllr Leonard told the executive that while he appreciated all the development that is going to Castlepollard, he believed the re-purposing of St Peter’s could be achieved alongside the other projects.
The HSE is well disposed towards the notion, and there are funding opportunities such as through the National Apprenticeship Centres of Excellence programme.
Cllr Frank McDermott said while he saw the merit in the proposal, and he supported the idea, he did not know where they will be able to procure the labour to achieve all that is suggested.
Cllr Hazel Smyth said she has had many meetings with the HSE about St Peter’s, and thought that in the midst of the present housing crisis, it could also have potential on the housing front.
“It does have huge potential and I do hope that we can work together to bring it back to life,” she said.