LGBT community demand gay resource centre for Galway

Galway’s status as the only city in Ireland not to have a resource centre for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, could be coming to an end.

Ahead of Monday’s city council meeting, AMACH! LGBT Galway Ltd - an advocacy group representing and facilitating LGBT groups across the city and county - will present city manager Brendan McGrath and Mayor Pádraig Conneely with a petition, containing more than 1,000 signatures, supporting the idea of an LGBT resource centre for Galway.

The group has already put together a “comprehensive plan” for the centre and the Galway County Council has provided €3,000 towards its provision, with another €2,000 to be provided once a suitable location is sought. The resource centre was made part of the Galway City Development Plan 2011 - 2017.

However, in order for the centre to be viable, it must be located within the city centre. As such, an agreement needs to be reached with the Galway City Council on its location - whether it needs to be a separate building or be located within an existing structure.

“We want to be self-sustaining and for that, the centre, which would cover both the city and county, would be located in the city centre,” Nuala Ward, the vice-chair of AMACH! told the Galway Advertiser. “It would be open to everybody and provide services and support for LGBT people. We have everything in place and are ready to go. All we are asking is for City Hall to progress the commitments in the City Development Plan.”

Ms Ward believes there is strong public support for the centre, citing the response to its petition.

“The petition attracted support from young and old and all ages inbetween. There were no negative comments. It was inspiring. Attitudes towards the LGBT community have changed for the better, but there is still a lot of work to do in addressing support for people and issues like rural isolation.”

However the acknowledgement of the need for an LGBT resource centre in the City Development Plan means the council supports such a proposal and will not stand in the way of such a centre, but it is not of itself a commitment by City Hall to provide such a centre. Nonetheless, AMACH! is hopeful that Monday’s meeting will mark a step in the direction of the centre becoming a reality.

Meanwhile, Labour’s Galway City Central councillor Billy Cameron said LGBT groups, as well as African, youth, parent and toddler, and the active retired, should not have to apply for funding under arts grants.

“These groups are principally involved in social exclusion,” said Cllr Cameron. “Separate funding should be ring-fenced to fund these groups through grant aid. Funding should be put in place to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, experiences, and circumstances, can gain access to the services and facilities they need to achieve their own potential in life.”

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