The Catholic Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Galway has donated €45,000 to local gay rights group AMACH!. The money donated came from the Maureen O’Connell fund. Ms Nula Ward from AMACH! says she is thrilled about receiving such a large amount of money from “such an esteemed organisation”: “We are delighted to announce solid support from SVP Maureen O’Connell Fund in the form of a grant! €45,000 over three years has been awarded to AMACH! towards the AMACH! LGBT Resource Centre project.”
In 2007, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Galway received a bequest of €7.8m from the late Maureen O’Connell, following the sale of her landmark Galway property “O’Connell’s” public house. The St. Augustine Conference is managing the spending of the bequest according to the terms of the Will, which states that “…funds should be used for the work of the SVP in Galway City and County.” The Conference is comprised of members of local SVP Conferences from throughout Galway.
Priorities of the Fund
In accordance with the aims and mission of the Society, the Maureen O’Connell Fund aims to tackle poverty in all its forms through the provision of practical assistance to those in need, specifically addressing poverty and isolation among older people, family poverty, child poverty, educational needs of disadvantaged children, young people and adults and homelessness. It will support innovative projects which complement the activities of SVP
Conferences which add value to existing services or fill gaps in existing services for the most disadvantaged groups.
Peter Quinlan, Acting President of St Augustine’s Conference, emphasises that “St. Augustine’s Conference is particularly anxious to help individuals or groups in need who have fallen through the cracks in the system and are not being helped or are being inadequately helped by other agencies.”
In September 2009 St Augustine’s Conference appointed a Project Manager, Annalisa Murphy, to manage the administration of the Maureen O’Connell Fund.
Project Manager, Annalisa Murphy says:
“Listening to the needs of disadvantaged people is what SVP volunteers do best and the reason Maureen O’Connell bequeathed her funds to this organisation. It is critically important to develop systems and procedures to ensure the Fund is managed in a fair and transparent manner. Maureen O’Connell entrusted her funds to the Society because she believed in what the Society stands for and the work the volunteers do. We in turn owe it to Miss O’Connell to be one hundred per cent accountable in the stewardship of the Maureen O’Connell Fund.”
The question of course is would the late Maureen O’Connell approve of the way the funds are being used by this Catholic organisation. She left her money to SVP in good faith that it would be used to help the poor and needy of Galway. I have difficulty understanding how a resource centre for the gay community falls into this category.
If SVP wants to support the gay community then why didn’t it use the €45,000 to set up a local branch of the amazing Catholic group ‘Courage’ who offer support, education and understanding of people who experience same sex attraction and also want to remain faithful to the Catholic Church? What an opportunity missed.
Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway has written to Galway SVP regarding this issue and is awaiting their reply.