Vandals attempt to burn down community centre

david medcalf

Cleaned up and then almost burnt out. That was the story at the FAB (Ferndale, Ashfield, Belvedere) Community and Family Resource Centre in Coolcotts.

On the good news front, the centre played a full part in the annual spring clean initiative organised by organised by Wexford Borough Council and An Taisce.

Staff and volunteers, including Anne Beary and Jenny Sinnott, spent more than four hours picking up all the rubbish that had accumulated around the area. Afterwards, thanks were expressed to Cllr. Anthony Kelly for arranging the removal the 50 bags of rubbish from the FAB grounds for later disposal by the council.

Then a few nights later, unwanted visitors came close to reducing the centre to ashes as they lit a fire at the back door of the premises - not once but twice. Fuel for the fire was provided in the form of an old tyre and a parking barrier dragged from the nearby county council premises.

After the blaze took light, shopkeeper Anthony Doyle from the next door Londis came to the rescue with a member of staff after they noticed smoke around 8 p.m. However, their fire fighting skills were required once more before the night was through after the vandals re-ignited their foul smelling bonfire.

Staff arrived on Tuesday morning to find the paint lifted by flames from the security shutter at the rear door of the premises. The fire at its height was so intense that the heat caused the door behind the shutter to buckle, while the wall was also blackened.

'Come in and talk to us,' was the message to the miscreants from FAB staff member Brenda Wadding Byrne, who noted that last week's incident was not the first fire in the area. However, in the past, such fires have not been set so close to buildings. She pointed out that the organisation does not the money for repairs at a time when budgets have been cut.

The centre is the base for a community employment scheme. It also provides child care and youth diversion services as well as offering facilities for counselling and for women's groups. It was established in 1996 and the building was extended in 2001. The centre has the overwhelming support of the local community.

Meanwhile, anyone interested in volunteering in setting up a tidy towns committee for the FAB area is asked to come along to the open night at the community and family resource centre on Tuesday, May 14 at 6.30 p.m. Tidy towns groups are backed by the Borough Council.

Wexford People

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