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Crunch meeting to save Plaza 08.01.08

Story: Inishowen Independent

A MAKE or break meeting has been called for tomorrow night to discuss the future of Buncrana’s Plaza Project. The voluntary project encompasses a dance hall/exhibition space and proposes to establish an ‘indoor street’ – a café style space for teenagers to socialise in a safe and alcohol free environment.
However, the project has been bedevilled by a lack of funding, opposition from neighbours and apathy from the local community.
“Despite applying for funding from local, county, national and European sources, we’ve drawn an absolute blank,” said project secretary Cathleen Doherty. “The only funding we have ever received was a small feasibility grant from Inishowen Rural Development Limited. There doesn’t seem to be any will to invest in teen facilities in this The Plaza in use during the Ar Ais Aris music festival.
part of the country.”
In November secondary school students across the country participated in the Big Ballot that sought to determine what was important to them. A large majority of students at Crana College identified the lack of play, leisure and recreation facilities locally as the most pressing issue facing them.
“Sports facilities in the locality are top notch and a credit to all those involved, but for children that don’t participate in sport there’s nothing for them to do or nowhere for them to go,” Doherty said.
Shareholders and investors will meet tomorrow night to discuss the future of the project, but Doherty is pessimistic.
“It seems we’re not far from the end of the road,” she said. “There has been a desperate lack of community support and continuing is becoming increasingly untenable.”
The building has a mortgage of more than €900,000, two-thirds of which is overdue. Plans to clear the mortgage by accessing grants have fallen through. Cathleen Doherty is at a loss as to why funding applications have failed, but says that the innovative indoor street type approach is entirely new and funding bodies do not seem to be able to deal with something that falls outside of their previous experience. Repeated delays in obtaining a dance licence have also hampered the development of the project with objections being repeatedly heard in the District Court. “The opposition has been a nightmare,” said Doherty, who has worked on the project in a voluntary capacity since 2002.
“We have successfully held two Chamber of Commerce trade fairs, a number of art exhibitions and boxing tournaments, but the project has been badly hampered in recent years.”
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