End of an Era for RCTLC
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John Lupton asks that the County Council would reconsider the structure of the company running the swimming pool, as RCTLC hosts it’s last meeting after 21 successful years
End of an Era for RCTLC
On Tuesday night September 8th, 2015, 21 years to the day of the first meeting in the then Pathé Hotel Roscrea at which it was decided to commence a fresh campaign which would see the creation of Roscrea Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre, R.C.T.L.C., the Co-operative of Roscrea People set up for that purpose, with its work done, came to an end. However, while one co-operative came to an end the value of a Co-operative structure which facilitates the empowerment of people was lauded as a structure by which people themselves can save their own place, now that smaller towns, villages and communities are threatened as sustainable, vibrant and self contained economic, social and cultural units which they once were.
Members of RCTLC
Back- Paddy Bergin, Paddy Collison, Eamon Phelan, Brendan Keeshan, Steve Crofton, Liam Shanahan, Seamus Mullaney,
Front- Treasa Bowe, Mary Hefferan, Eileen Doherty John Lupton, Marie Tooher, PJ Wright
The Chairman of RCTLC since its inception and Chair of that 1st meeting of September 8th, 1994, as the then President of Roscrea Chamber of Commerce, John Lupton said that without the people of Roscrea empowering themselves “Roscrea Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre” would not exist today. He said there is an ongoing need for people to empower themselves through formal structures and he highly recommends the Co-operative structure.
He said the Community campaign to bring about Roscrea Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre was based on the two “E’s” i.e. “Empowerment” and “Entitlement”. He said that in 1994 the prevailing wisdom was that a swimming pool in Roscrea would not be viable or sustainable. However, he said, a trip to “Tipperary Town”, a town of similar size and population “convinced us otherwise, if we as a community empowered ourselves while the Capital Grant Programme of Government assured us if we had 25% of cost, we, like any other community, were “entitled” to a 75% grant”.
Thus a Co-operative of the people was set up. “Roscrea Community and Tourism Leisure Co-op” to which the people contributed approximately €165,000 in Shareholding, then the small business community contributed €100,000. The nun’s of the Sacred Heart then sold to the Co-op the Convent for €250,000. While the Government would not accept equity in a building as making up the 25% community share a promise of €1.25 million from the late Tony Ryan satisfied this and gave the community “entitlement” to Government funding. Chairman John Lupton said that in the interest of historical accuracy he wanted to put it on record that Mr. Michael Smith Snr of his own initiative secured that commitment from Tony Ryan and it was on that basis that “entitlement” to Government funding was granted and with that done the Local Authority committed to the project as did Roscrea Credit Union with a grant of €750,000. However, “that said the Tony Ryan commitment did not materialise albeit had served to secure Government funding but its failure to materialise impacted on the Convent having to be sold”.
“Personally, I suppose, I was disappointed that the County Council were not interested in building, or perhaps couldn’t, at the Convent site which had great potential but rather same had to be sold” said John Lupton. The Convent was sold for €2,250.000 i.e. giving us a profit of €2 m to the community with €100,000 going to the Abbey Hall, €100,000 to the Tennis Club and €30,000 to running and all weather facilities and with the balance going to the building of what is now “Roscrea Leisure Centre.
John acknowledged the work of the very many involved and noted that of the late Francis Minogue whose 3rd anniversary of his death in 2012 took place on that same day September 8th. He thanked the many staff especially Marie Tooher for her long years of service and to Eileen Doherty who mentored her when she, Eileen, was Project Manager and also assisted by Susan Crawford in the setting up of RCTLC’s Health & Fitness Centre. He acknowledged all the volunteers involved and wished one of the earliest volunteers Kathleen Marks who is now coping with illness well. He thanked all who fundraised and recalled Liam Shanahan’s novel “human chain” marking the creation of what is now Coláiste Phobal with the coming together of the former CBS, Sacred Heart Convent and Vocational School.
John Lupton asked that the County Council would reconsider the structure of the company running the swimming pool, that it would better reflect community involvement and the Co-operative initiative which brought about the complex. He thanked all the politicians and asked them to support the on-going development of Co-operative structures to facilitate “people empowerment”. Liam Shanahan thanked John Lupton for his vision, enthusiasm and energy in bringing the co-operative and its aims to a successful conclusion. Eileen Doherty, current Chairperson of the company which runs the Leisure Centre thanked the County Council and its officials for their input and expertise. The dissolution of RCTLC was formally proposed by John Lupton and seconded by Brendan Keeshan. It was stated however, that the RCTLC Annual Sports Stars Awards will continue by the Abbey Hall committee i.e. “Roscrea Abbey Community Centre”, which has many of the same committee members as that of the former RCTLC