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Armagh’s new Coach House home to new jobs and new hope

Published on:  30 Oct 2008

A charity in Co Armagh has opened a new centre in Darkley village which will host manufacturing and services in the area. Representing a £1 million capital investment, the new Coach House in Darkley was funded by the European Union’s Peace II Extension Programme, the International Fund for Ireland and the local Coach House Regeneration organisation.

The 7,750 sq. ft. three-storey building comprises a mixture of business and light industrial units on the site of a former coach house adjacent to Darkley House in the village. The building and its businesses will provide sustainable employment and investment opportunities in this area of deprivation. The charity behind the Coach House Regeneration project, Crossfire Trust, anticipates the development will create 36 new jobs over the next five years.

Once a thriving border mill town, Darkley, near Keady, has suffered high levels of unemployment and economic hardship since the local mill closed in 1959. The community also suffered a number of terrorist atrocities during the Troubles.

The regeneration project is the first major investment in this community and will provide for the first time in three generations new employment opportunities and new foundations for economic growth.

Speaking at the opening of the new facilities Eithne Gilligan, Programme Manager for the Special EU Programmes Body’s PEACE II Programme said:

"The overriding aim of the PEACE II Programme is to support and reinforce progress towards a more peaceful and stable society.  It does this by funding projects which address the legacy of the past and take full advantage of new opportunities.  The Coach House Regeneration project is a wonderful example of such a project and the benefits that PEACE II brings to local communities of Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland."

Denis Rooney, CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland said that the project was a wonderful example of how a community could strive to create a better future for everyone in the area.

He said: “I would like to congratulate Coach House Regeneration Ltd on the development of this business centre in Darkley. The fund, with its focus on reconciliation and community relations projects, has been an active supporter of Crossfire Trust’s work for many years and I am delighted that we have been able to continue our support to include this vital economic project.

“These new facilities bring with them the prospect of new local jobs and have the potential to strengthen and underpin community life in the years ahead.

“I would also like to thank our donors the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for their continued support without which we could not fund such vital projects.”

The Chairman of Coach House Regeneration, Richard Treacy, said: “We are very grateful for such generous support from both funding bodies and the general public which has resulted in an outstanding facility for community employment. It also allows us to develop our programme for victims and survivors of the troubles as well as many others who have been long-term unemployed.”

The Charity has organised a series of events during the coming weekend to formally welcome the community to the new facility. This includes a “Night of Light” event with fun and games providing a safe alternative environment for Hallowe’en and on Saturday 1st November a concert for all to enjoy.

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