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Irish Government to aid Hammersmith Centre

Reports of a Christmas cash lifeline from the Irish Government to save the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith have emerged.

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It is believed the centre is to receive £500,000 from Dublin to go towards the £2million needed to buy the centre’s premises that has been put up for sale.

However, neither the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith would confirm if a rescue deal has been struck.

On Saturday, it was reported that the Irish Government was moving towards providing financial assistance of more than half-a-million pounds as long as the additional £1.5million needed to save the west London-based centre from closure is raised before March 2012, when the current lease expires.

It was also been reported that Jim O’Hara from the centre’s board of directors is in talks with the Shepherds Bush Housing Association to redevelop the centre to include low-cost accommodation.

When contacted by The Irish Post, Mr O’Hara declined to comment on the article stating only that talks were taking place.

“We have nothing signed and nothing is confirmed,” he said. “We are in negotiations with the Government and hoping things will work out to satisfaction.”

The Department of ForeignAffairs, through The Irish Embassy in London, also confirmed talks were taking place, but declined to make any comment on the suggested figure of £500,000.

The sale of the Irish Cultural Centre is part of a Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s cost-cutting plan to cut debt estimated to be around £133million.

Campaigners and the board of directors at the centre have been involved in long-running talks with the council to save the centre before the lease expires in March.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council had agreed in January 2009 to give the centre a five-year lease extension, before changing its position and declaring its intention to sell.

In July, the Hammersmith centre received funding of €200,000 under the Department of Foreign Affairs’ DION programme to help with its running costs.

A source close toThe Irish Post said the deal was expected to be completed in January.



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