Tag Archives: LGBT

Teach Solais LGBT+ resource centre in Galway city

The West of Ireland’s only LGBT social space is in danger of being quietly extinguished.

John Donlon writes:

You might be forgiven for thinking, as you enter its unassuming premises off Galway’s Eyre Square, that Teach Solais is not a hugely consequential space.

Nothing could be further from the truth however, as this humble venue persists as the only LGBT space of its kind in all of the West of Ireland.

The result of years of hard work and planning on the behalf of Amach! LGBT Galway, even now the space is kept open largely by goodwill, blood, sweat and tears.

Its primary aims include providing a sense of belonging and community for LGBT people in the west; a place to come together in non-alcoholic setting. As per its Irish name, the space acts as a lighthouse, guiding lost souls through a stormy sea to safe harbour.

When I caught up with Cameron Keighron, Chairperson of Amach!, they reflected on the hard work that had already been done in bringing Teach Solais into being.

While the venue was secured in 2015, it has only been open since 2017 and has to date relied on Cameron, other Amach! board members and Community Employment Scheme workers to operate.

They’ve worked on providing a full social experience via the centre, by way of meditation classes, a running club, soccer club, self-defence classes and work with LGBT Ireland.

Cameron feels like they are just putting together a lot of pieces that were already there; they’re put together in once space.

He says:

‘We provide a lot of information, especially with how isolated it can be in a rural context; people come in and they have a question, or they need some condoms, we’re there to provide that information in a safe and confidential way that is accessible to them’.

In addition, the space is readily made available to other community groups in the city, including LGBT Ireland, Bi+ Ireland, and Galway Pro-Choice.

Says Cameron:

‘We open the space up for community groups to have a more affordable space and a more permanent space available to them’.

There’s a lot of intersectionality between the cohort that we’re targeting and the cohort that they’re targeting. We’re not just an LGBT centre so you don’t have to be an LGBT group to use the centre or to come in, you just have to respect the ethos of the centre’.

This hard work is all in jeopardy, however, as the space has never been given the core, renewable government funding that constitutes the lifeblood of spaces like this.

Originally set up thanks to a one-off, €25,000 fund from Galway City Council and accompanied by a €45,000 payment from the Maureen O’Connell fund, without regular, budgeted government support the space’s days are numbered.

This need lead them to start engaging with local politicians and other community groups to find out how they were funded. By and large the HSE were funding them, so Amach!
approached the relevant HSE Community Health Organization (Area 2, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon).

Though there was no new funding available the HSE were very supportive and advised them to continue to work with local politicians to contact other avenues of the HSE

Hildegarde Naughton TD helped to organise a meeting with Catherine Byrne Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy.

She suggested that they apply for a grant called Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy. Just before they submitted their application for that, Minister for Health Simon Harris visited the centre where they talked about it, so he too was aware it was going through.

Within days they got an email back letting them know they were unsuccessful, which was disheartening and disappointing for them to say the least.

They were then moved or advised towards applying for funding under Section 39 (Non-Acute/Community Agencies being provided with funding under Section 39 of the Health Act, 2004.) under which a lot of other community or advocacy groups are being funded.

Cameron recalls:

‘We applied for just over €90,000, and originally we were awarded €1,000, upon appealing then they upped that to €5,000’.

‘hey feedback was that the budget they had to work with doesn’t have enough surplus money for the budget that we submitted. It’s not that the HSE is bad or the HSE doesn’t want to fund us. The HSE do, they actually recognise the work that we do.

They recognise that this is saving money in the long term. If we can give people advice, information, it ultimately saves on the health service in the future’.

The impression one gets is of a system which has not kept pace with or allowed for the emergence of new, genuine public resources which have been put together with genuine, long-term grassroots action and devotion.

Says Cameron:

‘The reality is that funding streams like Section 39 haven’t really increased all that much in the last number of years. There’s still the same amount of groups that they were always funding, but now there’s more groups that need funding, but their money hasn’t increased.’

‘The government needs to ring fence core funding for groups like ours in a specific LGBT+ fund that’s protected, that rolls over on a yearly basis. There’s no point in giving us money for one year because in a year’s time we’ll be back in the same position’.

There does seem to be broad political support for the space and securing its future; with a recent public meeting (above) on the topic attracting Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Independent TDs along with representatives from the Green Party, People Before Profit, Social Democrats and Sinn Fein.

A shared sense of multi-partisanship was on display, with the elected representatives present at the time displaying an encouraging outlook regarding the space and its work being more important for the community than any potential political point-scoring.

As much as there is an undeniable hopefulness around the space; Cameron also admits trepidation about the future.

He says:

‘The community are scared. We’ve built this place up to be a vibrant hub for the LGBT community, the first real physical element to visibility for a really under-represented group in the west of Ireland.’

‘People rely on it for a social network, the vast majority of the time, people are coming into the centre; they all take care of each other. It really fosters a sense of family, community, the community that are coming there they really need it. They view this as another home.’

This duality, of a hard job well done but also of a space built on sand would seem to be taking its toll on Cameron and the rest of the Amach! Crew running the space.

‘We all find it really rewarding, the work that we’re doing here. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t like it. It’s also getting to the point that the vast majority of us, myself included, are heading towards burnout. There’s only so many times you can write grant after grant after grant and get a negative response.

It’s really frustrating and it’s really disheartening because we don’t know if it’s us that’s doing something wrong. We don’t know if it’s that the funding stream isn’t the right one. In these situations, the LGBT community in the west of Ireland, a lot of the community groups feel the frustration of you feel like you’re not being heard.’

If you are interested in helping Teach Solais keep its doors open, you can contribute here.

John Donlon is a Galway-based freelance journalist.

Top Pic: Connaucht Tribune

 

This morning/afternoon.

Leinster House, Dublin 2

LGBT families calling for same-sex couples to be given legal recognition as parents.

The Children and Family Relationships Act, which was passed in 2015, allows for the option of including a co-parent on a birth certificate.

However, not all sections have been commenced, including the provision that relates to donor-assisted human reproduction….

LGBT families protest over lack of legal recognition as parents (RTÉ)

Pic via Grace O’Sullivan

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This morning.

Government Buildings, Dublin 2.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone with Irish Times columnist and activist Una Mullally, who has been appointed independent chair to oversee Ireland’s first National LGBT Youth Strategy.

Ms Mullally said:

“LGBT young people face a unique set of challenges when striving to fulfil their potential, particularly when it comes to mental health, facing bullying in schools, combatting negative stereotypes, and dealing with the anxiety of environments hostile to their sexuality or gender identity.

I’m looking forward to chairing the development of the first national LGBT strategy for young people, listening to the voices and concerns of LGBT young people, and working with the groups, organisations and individuals across Ireland who have done great work in this area, to come up with more solutions and actions to ensure that one’s sexuality or gender identity does not impede in any way a young person’s potential to live a life as fulfilling as their heterosexual peers.

As someone who grew up gay in Ireland, I understand the struggles and complexities of existing in a society that is sometimes hostile to your identity. I hope to bring that experience, as well as my work as an LGBT rights activist and advocate to this endeavour, and will also be guided by the experts in this field, and most importantly LGBT young people themselves.”

FIGHT!

Una Mullally appointed Independent Chair of first LGBT National Youth Strategy (merrionStreet)

Update:

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Una Mullally Katherine Zappone and unidentified LGBT activists take a bow.

Rollingnews

Rainbow Walk CoverRainbow Walk 3Rainbow Walk 2

LGBT activist Dale McDermott and Fine Gael Dublin City Councillor Noel Rock are proposing  a number of rainbow​​-coloured pedestrian crossings in Dublin City Centre to “further boost the LGBT credentials the city has achieved in recent years”.

In a submission to Dublin City Council, three specific locations​ have been outlined.

Dale, a former president of Young Fine Gael, writes:

“Three city centre locations where the Rainbow Walks could be installed that have significant meaning to the LGBT community in Dublin, ranging from George’s Street, outside City Hall and Panti​b​ar on Capel Street. These locations all have their own story to tell and I have done my best to explain in my submission [link below to Dublin City Council how each location is viewed by the LGBT community.

Fight!

Full Rainbow Walk proposal here

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LGBT Switchboard’s Andrew Deering and Leslie Sherlock

This morning.

The launch by the LGBT Helpline and Gay Switchboard Ireland of a new online messaging resource for people who require advice but don’t want to speak on the phone.

Initially offered as a weekend resource, the new service will launch on July 3 and allow users to  to ‘chat’ in real time with a trained LGBT-identified volunteer.

Emoticons allowed.

LGBT.ie

(Mark Stedman/Photocall ireland)

choral

You may like this.

Darragh writes:

This is a video from a Cork LGBTS choir called “Choral Con Fusion”. They recently wrote, sang and recorded a song for charity called “We Love the Same (A Song for Equality)” with proceeds from single sales  going to the the upcoming marriage equality campaign.
They’ve been trying to get the song out there, but the BAI ruling to do with the SSM referendum means that a lot of radio/tv presenters aren’t willing – perhaps unsurprisingly – to play the song (perhaps if the Iona Institute had some kind of anti-SSM tune out to counteract this one, it’d balance out in the eyes of RTÉ?)…

Available on iTunes here

00090942Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan

The Bishop of Galway appears to have rowed back on his strong stance on the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) donation towards a gay resource centre, telling a member of the public that he “got it badly wrong”.

There have been calls for Dr Martin Drennan to resign in the wake of his comments on Galway Bay FM last week about the €45,000 allocation to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community support group Amach.

He described gay culture as “morally wrong” and said he had a problem with the “moral judgment” involved with making the decision by the SVP.

Salthill resident Cormac Ryan wrote an email to the Bishop after hearing the interview, describing his remarks as “deeply offensive, uncharitable and unchristian”.

A reply the following day from the Diocesan email address, which was also sent to the Bishop’s Diocesan secretary, thanked him for the letter.

“My humble apologies for the hurt caused. I got it badly wrong,” it said.

Vice chairperson of Amach, Nuala Ward, invited the Bishop to sit down and talk with the organisation to discuss their work, which involved collaborating with bodies such as the Health Service Executive, the Gardaí and suicide prevention groups.

Meanwhile..

BxRFWdYIIAAdbtJ

Tackling poverty is what the SVP does best. But Galway LGBT Amach! is a campaigning organisation. It even helped promote a pro-abortion march in Galway last year. That’s the opposite of reaching out to the poor and marginalised.

And it’s not as though left-wing, liberal causes are stuck for money these days. When it comes to friends in the media and funds from millionaires, gay rights projects are top dogs, not underdogs.

Did SVP Galway ask Amach! whether it would be campaigning for the redefinition of marriage next year? Might its resource centre and facilities be used in that referendum?

It’s a strange thing, but heaven help you if you dare to regret using the poor box to fund a campaigning gay rights organisation.

Update:

nuala

 

Enda Cunningham [of the Connacht Tribune] writes:

Purely in the interest of balance, there is actually a third piece [above] in the Tribune today – it’s from Nuala Ward, Vice Chair of Amach LGBT.

Bishop of Galway says he got it ‘badly wrong’ (Denise McNamara, Galway City Tribune)

Previously: How Dare They?

Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

00090950The-Connacht-Sentinel

Bishop Martin Drennan (top) and The Connact Sentinel of August 19.

From The Irish Catholic:

Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan is demanding answers from the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) in Galway after it dished out thousands of euro to fund a permanent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resource centre there.
The grant to LGBT Galway, €45,000 over three years, was approved by the society’s Maureen O’Connell Fund [The Society of St Vincent de Paul in Galway received the €7.8 million bequest in 2007 from the sale of an Eyre Square pub belonging to the late Maureen O’Connell] as a contribution to a full-time resource centre which Galway City Council has pledged to provide.
Galway diocesan spokesman Fr Sean McHugh confirmed that Bishop Drennan had made contact with the SVP to seek further clarity on the issue.
“We want to keep in mind the good work that the St Vincent de Paul does throughout the country. We don’t know the full facts of the story yet,” he said.

Bishop Demands Answers from SVP on gay donation (Cathal Barry, Irish Catholic)

(Graham Hughes/Photocall ireland)

lgbt

They want everyone married.

Robert Wright writes:

“This is a video that a group of friends [Aisling Gill, Cassie Delaney and Sorcha Crilly] and myself have made about Marriage Equality. The video is called “Our Equal Marriage” and centres around the question “What does Equal Marriage mean to you?” The main aim of the video is to show that equal marriage will not only be a positive step for the LGBT community but will positively affect our heterosexual families and friends as they want us to be happy and to enjoy the same rights as they do.”