The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins was in neighbouring Co. Cavan at the weekend for the official launch of the new multi-million pound Castle Saunderson International Scout Centre.
The camping and adventure facility at Castle Saunderson is on a site straddling the border between Cavan and Fermanagh, with entrances in both counties, and the Camp Chief is Tony Smith from Enniskillen.
Tony was delighted that at last the day had arrived when they finally got to open Castle Saunderson International Scout Centre. He said it was through the patience and dedication of many members of Scouting Ireland which helped them get to where they are today.
The responsibility for the day to day management and operation of the Centre lies in the hands of its management team, which is led by Tony as Camp Chief, supported by Centre Manager, Finbar Gethins. The management team is made up of volunteers from Scouting.
"These people have a vision for the future of Castle Saunderson, and a passion to deliver the best possible programme to the young and not so young that will use the Centre," believes Tony. He feels the management team, backed by a team of committed volunteers from Ireland and abroad "will ensure Castle Saunderson International Scout Centre will be the envy of Scout Centres throughout the world." The President of Ireland met with Northern Ireland Executive Ministers Nelson McCausland, Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann for Saturday's formal launch.
In receipt of approximately �3.2million (�3.7 million) in funding from the EU's PEACE III Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), the project has created a 30 acre multi-activity adventure centre.
The new Castle Saunderson International Scout Centre includes fully equipped indoor facilities as well as a Jamboree site, capable of accommodating up to 1,000 people.
Junior Minister Jonathan Bell believes "this is an extremely important project that will bring together a new generation of young people in a spirit of mutual co-operation. In using the centre they will be able to recognise and celebrate their differences as well as develop leadership skills that will help them in later life." Junior Minister Jennifer McCann described it as an excellent cross-border initiative "which will not only benefit children from many different communities and backgrounds, but also serve to enhance the local economy through the provision of additional employment and increased tourism potential." Nelson McCausland Social Development Minister in Northern Ireland said: "This new PEACE III supported facility will not only help revitalise the local area but also instil leadership and teambuilding skills within all the children who use it, now and in the future." Match-funding for the project was provided by the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, in Ireland.
Minister Phil Hogan TD, Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, referred to the host of many different benefits, and noted that primarily however it will encourage young people, from both sides of the border, to learn new skills that will enhance their lives.
Located within the border region of Ireland, between Cavan, Fermanagh and Monaghan, the centre will encourage greater levels of interaction from young people from different religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
In addition to attracting young people from a scouting background, the project also intends to encourage visits between young people from a wide-range of youth based organisations and schools from across Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Project partners include Cavan County Council, the Scouting Association for Northern Ireland and Scouting Ireland.
Michael John Shinnick, Chief Scout, from Scouting Ireland described it as a testament to the hard work and dedication of many different people. "It has been years in the making but the results speak for themselves. The new facility has already received international recognition and will be declared a 'World Peace Centre' by the World Scout Foundation." Colin Lammey, Chief Commissioner with the Scout Association NI expressed delight to see the completion of the project "which will positively shape the lives of thousands of children and young adults across Northern Ireland and Ireland. The Scouting movement has a long and proud tradition of helping young people achieve their full potential and become responsible citizens. The new purpose built facility will allow this tradition to continue and ensure future generations learn the leadership, self-reliance and teambuilding skills that scouts are famous for, across the world." Congratulations were extended to all involved in the project by Pat Colgan Chief Executive of the SEUPB, who noted that the project "has been supported under the creating shared public spaces priority of the EU's PEACE III Programme." It is anticipated that over 12,000 young people from an extremely diverse range of backgrounds will use the facility within its first year.
Castle Saunderson was home to the Saunderson family for many years and one of their members was Edward Saunderson, founder of the Ulster Unionist Party.