Thursday, September 22, 2022

Main Street in Newbridge

Kildare Co Council has been asked to identify a premises in Newbridge for the St Conleth’s branch of the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (ONE) – similar to the St Michael’s branch in Athy.

That was an ask from Cllr Peggy O’Dwyer, via a motion at Kildare-Newbridge Municipal District’s September meeting, who was told that Newbridge Town Hall is regularly used by many local groups and is available for booking by the St Conleth’s branch.

The written report added that the Riverbank Arts Centre is available for local groups, as well as areas of the library.

‘There is a limited budget available however the community department welcome the opportunity to support this group in any way possible,” it stated.

The ONE was established in March 1951 and its primary objective is to support the needs of Irish veterans by the provision of accommodation to homeless veterans in its veterans homes through its nationwide network of branches and veteran support centres.

There are currently 37 branches around the country – these provide a network for volunteer members to maintain contact with veterans and provide assistance where necessary.

As Cllr O’Dwyer told the meeting, ONE is developing a nationwide network of veteran support centres. These can be best described as a cross between Men’s or Women’s Sheds, places where veterans can meet, have a cup of tea and exchange stories. ONE see these centres as providing early intervention with a view to alleviating social stresses and reduce homelessness among veterans.

Of the 15 veteran support centres, 11 are located within military installations and four outside. Cllr O’Dwyer, who said her husband is a veteran, explained that it was the identification of a veteran support centre that was at the heart of her motion.

Cllr Noel Heavey remarked that ONE is one of myriad community groups in Newbridge looking for space and suggested that the former monastery in Newbridge, now in council ownership, could be a potential location.

The meeting heard that the council is happy to talk to the group in Newbridge, but that KCC owns “very limited” property and don’t have anything at the moment or the budget to buy anything.

Cllr Suzanne Doyle suggested putting it on the radar of the Planning department if they see a natural fit, adding that the interplay of private and public could solve this. She said Cllr Heavey’s suggestion should be explored in the long-term.

Minister of State and Kildare South TD Martin Heydon recently visited the ONE facility in Brú na bhFiann in Smithfield with his colleague Minister Frank Feighan. He explained that Chairman Colm Campbell, CEO Cormac Kirwan and Deputy House Manager Sinead Black outlined “the very important role that ONE play in supporting veterans of the Defence Forces especially through the provision of support, comradeship and in certain circumstances accommodation along with mental health supports, across the country.

“The importance of that community support were underlined to me at the recent opening of the ONE drop-in centre in Athy. I am working with Minister Feighan and our colleagues across Government to explore further ways in which we can continue to assist ONE and our 140,000 Defence Force veterans.

“I also am working with my colleagues on Kildare Co Council to deliver a Kildare based centre in Newbridge to deliver similar support to our Kildare veterans.”

By Conor Forrest
Contact Newsdesk: 045 432147

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