Mayor of Athlone Cllr John Dolan says he is hopeful that “common sense will prevail” and that the relationship between the Community Games and AIT may yet be salvaged.
His comments come after news broke on Monday this week (October 24 ) that the Community Games finals were to move from Athlone Institute of Technology, which has hosted the games for the past seven years, due to a disagreement between the bodies.
Community Games president Gerard Davenport attributed the decision to a “perceived change in relationship from a partnership to a strictly commercial arrangement”.
“The decision was taken after a detailed assessment by the board of the current arrangements and a need for certainty as to the location and viability of future festivals,” he said, adding that a new venue would be announced “in the near future”.
It is understood that the board were unhappy with written correspondence they received from AIT, but that no meetings had taken place between the parties.
However a statement from AIT expressed shock at Monday’s announcement.
“AIT was happy to continue to support the operation of the festival in Athlone into the future on the continuation of a Memorandum of Understanding, however the Community Games Board sought to move to a formal licence agreement. AIT facilitated the hosting of the festival in AIT for 2016 to allow for ongoing discussions for future years, however we are both surprised and disappointed by [the] announcement by Community Games.”
Speaking to the Advertiser this week, Mayor of Athlone John Dolan said the Community Games had agreed to allow him to mediate in the dispute, and that he hoped this offer would also be taken up by AIT.
While it had always been the intention to move some of the events to Dublin in 2017 for the Games’ Golden Jubilee year, Cllr Dolan said he is hopeful that the bodies might continue their partnership in 2018 and beyond.
“I am anxious that the Games be salvaged for 2018. I wouldn’t write it off yet, and I hope common sense can prevail and that comon ground will be found,” he said.
“The Community Games acknowledge that AIT is the ideal venue in terms of facilities, accommodation, and location, and the council is a strong supporter of the Games. We have had a good seven years, and I would like to see that continue,” he said.