Council confirm purchase of Victoria House

Work on Mary Robinson Centre to commence in November

Mayo County Council confirmed last weekend it had reached an agreement to purchase Victoria House in Ballina - the family home of former president Mary Robinson.

According to the council, contracts and paperwork will be completed over the coming weeks and subject to all relevant requirements, the construction of the proposed Mary Robinson Centre on the site will commence in November this year.

Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Brendan Mulroy, welcomed the news, saying: "This is a great step forward for what is a major project for County Mayo. The significant community support will be key to the success of this project."

The chief executive of Mayo County Council , Peter Hynes, added: "This marks a significant development in the progress of the centre, a project which is of significant importance for Ireland in general and for Mayo in particular. We hope it will provide a national model for honoring and building on the contribution of significant civic figures in the country."

Mayo County Council also thanked Josepha Madigan TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for the significant contribution of €2m towards the costs and for her Department's continued support on the project.

Speaking on behalf of the Board of The Victoria House Foundation, Chair Emer Gilvarry said: "The support of many – locally, nationally and internationally - has been vital in sustaining this project and bringing it to this important stage of development.

"As a Board, together with our partners at Mayo County Council and NUI Galway, we look forward to now creating a world-class centre for human rights, gender equality and climate change, exploring the life’s work and legacy of Mary Robinson in her childhood home here in Ballina.”

Local independent Cllr Mark Duffy welcomed the announcement saying: "Victoria house will be modeled on libraries of former US presidents and become home to the Mary Robinson Centre which will include a museum, archive, research/ educational facility and events venue.

"Ballina will benefit from having a presidential centre that will attract visitors and academics promoting issues that Mary Robinson has long advocated for, including human rights, women’s leadership and climate justice which are still as pertinent today.

"With an under-representation of women in politics, I hope that the center can help to inspire the next generation of women to become future leaders in our country."

Ballina native, Senator Michelle Mulherin, also welcomed the news, saying: "This is a golden opportunity unique to Ballina, the birthplace of Mary Robinson. The project has wide support both locally and further afield and it is supported by the majority of councillors on Mayo County Council. The project has languished for far too long.

"It would have been a regrettable turn of events if it was not to proceed after the considerable work and resources committed to the project this far. We need to be developing tourism, cultural and heritage projects which will sustain the local economy of our town and environs into the future.

"Developing a centre based on the work of Mary Robinson is obvious, to honour her work as a past Irish president and former UN Commissioner for Human Rights but also on the basis of her ongoing human rights work in areas such as climate justice, equality, women's rights and the rights of refugees.

"She is our best known global figure and because of this, she can put Ballina on a global stage. A taste of this is to be seen with the numbers from far and wide who gather for her lectures in Ballina, and the prestigious speakers she attracts, such as former US Senator George Mitchell."

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