Irish Centre Chairman Says Proposed Sale is "Major Shock"

Board consider major fundraising campaign to buy freehold

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Nine Buildings to be Sold to Pay Council Debts

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The Board of Hammersmith's Irish Cultural Centre have expressed their shock over council plans to put the buiilding in Black's Road up for sale.

The board, led by chairman Jim O' Hara met with the Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Stephen Greenhalgh, and the Chief Executive, Geoff Alltimes, on the July 7 to discuss the centre's future.

In January 2009, the Council agreed to extend the Cultural Centre’s lease from April 2012 to April 2017.  Terms for this extension were agreed in December of the same year.

However, the council have now stated that due to their budget constraints, they are no longer in a position to provide this lease extension at the previously agreed rent. 

Instead, they have expressed their wish to sell the freehold to the Irish Cultural Centre.

Jim O’Hara, Chairman of the Board, says: “This fait accompli is completely unexpected and has come as a major shock.  We will now need to radically rethink our plans and our future financial strategy.

“The Council have not yet confirmed the price, but raising sufficient funds to purchase the building before April 2012 would be a major challenge for us.

“It would, however, offer an opportunity to acquire a wonderful facility which would be held in perpetuity for the Irish community and ensure continued provision of high-quality cultural and educational programmes for future generations.

“Moreover, as was recognised at the recent Irish government-sponsored Farmleigh conference in Dublin, Irish culture plays an increasingly important role in strengthening links with the Irish diaspora.  Equally important is the vital role that Irish culture plays in distinguishing Ireland on the global economic stage.

“The richness and extensive nature of the activities of our Cultural Centre has been recognised by many leading figures and politicians both in Ireland and Britain.   These include the current President of Ireland and her predecessor.

"“Once the Council confirm the price and we have worked on a plan of action, we would need to launch a major campaign to establish support for the service and to call upon the goodwill and financial support of the Irish community.

"We will also be discussing the future of the Centre with the Irish government whose generous financial support in recent years has been a vital part of our success.

"It is our unique cultural inheritance that defines us and makes us what we are.  For a small nation it is our culture that has been the key to opening the doors of the world.  With thriving Irish Cultural Centres in New York and Paris, and at a time when Anglo-Irish relations are at their historic best, it would be nothing less than a tragedy to lose the Irish Cultural Centre in Britain’s capital.  This is our challenge.”