Kildare town councillor Suzanne Doyle has confirmed that the historic swimming pool funds for Kildare town will no longer cover the cost of a swimming pool and should be used elsewhere for the good of the community.
According to Cllr Doyle, the funds which are over 40 years old, worth €100,000, and regulated by a local Trust Fund, need to be redirected back into the community.
“The reality is that the money raised is still referred to as the Swimming Pool Fund but it is not enough to deliver a swimming pool. It was collected over a two year period in the mid to late 1960s from door to door collections of approximately 1 shilling per household. The fund was not sufficient to deliver a pool and there may have been an expectation that the local authority would select Kildare town to locate a swimming pool on the basis of the fund but that never happened.
“Several attempts to disperse the fund for other community purposes were made in recent years but were unsuccessful due to the restrictive terms of the trust to protect the funds,” said Cllr Doyle.
She said that while everyone appreciates the efforts made in the past with the fund, it now needs a new direction.
“Over the years various calls have been made to the council for the public to access that money, however it is not a council matter as it is still presided over by the trustees for now,” she added.
Local activist, Declan Crowe of Kildare Town Community Council said that most people are still in the dark over “what happened to the money, where it is, how much is it and who the trustees are?”
In response a statement was made by the trustees to the Leinster Leader by their current solicitor Paul D’Arcy.
It said that the trustees of Kildare town swimming pool fund are Pat Mahon and Charlie Bergin.
“The trustees are actively engaging with the Charities Regulator with a view to progressing matters. This includes provision to the Charities Regulator of any information they require on any matter to do with charity and agreement with the regulator what to do with the funds available. At present the trustees are attempting to finalise registration with the Charities Regulator.”
The Regulator’s key functions are to establish and maintain a public register of charitable organisations operating in Ireland and ensure their compliance with the Charities Acts. It also engages in the provision of services to charities including the authorising of appointments of new charitable trustees.
Meanwhile the issue was also raised at this month’s Municipal District Council meeting on Wednesday, January 17.
Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy tabled a motion asking the council to facilitate a follow-up on the issue, in order to help the trustees in any way they could to access the monies donated by the community, for the community.
She said; “This is an issue that has gone on for decades.”
She said that the Council should use their position in any way to help whoever needs help to access the funds. She added that the last time the issue was brought up, the trustees said they would look at it.
Independent Cllr Joanne Pender supported the motion. She said the Trust should be registered with the charities regulator.
“It is frustrating that nothing seems to be happening, people in the community need to know,” she said.
Sinn Féin Cllr Mark Lynch also supported the motion. “I would support us writing to the trustees. The money needs to be utilised, it can’t be sitting in a bank account any longer.”
Cllr Mark Stafford said; “It is no matter for us to be getting involved with trustees, other than offering support. Perhaps a letter should be written to the trustees to offer assistance.”
Cllr McLoughlin Healy said she was happy to go ahead and extend a letter to the trustees. She disagreed with Cllr Stafford’s statement that it is nothing to do with the Council. “Saying it is nothing to do with us is a poor representation.”
Cllr Doyle said it was her understanding a solicitor has been appointed for charitable status.
“I’m genuinely confident he’s resolving the matter”, said Cllr Doyle.
“Would our involvement expedite the matter?”, she added.
Cllr McLoughlin Healy said the trustees had asked to be given six months, and it has now been a year. Three were in favour of extending an invite to trustees to attend a county council meeting, while five voted against it.