By David Hennessy
The trustees of Haringey Irish Centre have released a statement explaining why they took the decision to close the centre permanently and so suddenly.
The Irish World reported two weeks ago that Haringey Irish Centre had been closed with staff there made redundant.
In a statement the trustees point to the closure of White Hart Lane for two years and the revenue they lost as a result as one of the main reasons the centre had to go into liquidation.
When the lockdown forced them to close, the centre was left with no income and in ‘mounting debt’.
The statement reads: “It is with great regret the trustees have taken the decision to close the Haringey Irish Cultural and Community Centre.
“A statement has gone to all stakeholders informing them of the situation and the process we must follow.
“The centre has acted as a community hub for the Haringey Community since 1987, the Charity has provided an Advice and Support Service, Lunch Club and Day Care Service and has facilitated the Haringey Irish Pensioners Group. These were vital services to many of the disadvantaged and vulnerable members from many different ethnicities and backgrounds in our community. The Trading Company has provided the social facilities, a range of eight offices for local charitable organisations to operate from, and a car park used by local people and football fans.
“Although the Charity has secured funding from the Emigrant Support Programme since our inception, it has also been dependent upon the Trading Company to generate sufficient income to pay for the running of the building, unfunded staff and other associated costs. The closure of The White Hart Lane Football Stadium in 2017 for almost two seasons created a large loss of income for the centre, this seriously depleted the organisations reserves. Plans had been made on the information provided that the stadium would only be shut for one season, this turned out not to be the case as different opening dates came and went.
“Due to the uncertainty this created we took further steps, we developed a business plan which Big Issue Invest (a charity which offers loans to other charities) accepted our plan as the basis of providing a loan due business interruption. We anticipated paying this back within five years, when the football stadium reopened many of our previous customers decide to use the stadiums facilities, this meant a reduction in planned income. Due to Covid – 19 we had to close the centre and this resulted in all non-funded income ending. This left us with mounting debt and no income to reduce this debt.
“As trustees we have acted in accordance with the statutory guidelines, we have taken professional advice and acting responsibly we have followed this advice. We were advised by our accountants and an insolvency practitioner that we should act to liquidate the company, we had no option but to follow this advice. A letter has been sent to staff, members, creditors, and funders informing them of our pending liquidation, we have also discussed the matter with Haringey Borough Council.
“We are aware and deeply saddened of the effects this will have on our community and staff. We have opted for “creditors voluntary liquidation” for two reasons:
“1. This enables staff to receive redundancy payments quickly, it avoids a three month delay. Given the pending changes in the furlough scheme this would unfairly disadvantage staff.
“2. Ensuring the centre is liquidated in an efficient and timely manner will enable other stakeholders who may help enable a viable future for the centre to act and take matters forward.
“We would like to thank all those who have supported centre over the years, our staff who have brought great benefit to our community, members, and those who have served tirelessly on committees to progress the centres aims and support to the community.
“We also acknowledge the invaluable support of the Irish Government and the funding they have provided to support our community. We thank them for helping us support the Haringey community.
“We are deeply saddened that the centre has closed, like members and supporters we are hopeful that others will see a future for the centre and bring that to fruition.
“No further comment will be made.”
The Haringey Centre was awarded £171,500 last October by the Irish government under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Emigrant Support Programme.
Officials there said they had tried to help the centre by putting it on a viable and ‘sustainable path forward.
Established for over 30 years, Haringey Irish Cultural & Community Centre started in 1987. President Michael D Higgins made the centre his first port of call in UK after first winning office when he met the London Gaelic football team.
Since The Irish World reported of the closure two weeks ago, David Lammy MP, Labour councillor Adam Jogee, Haringey Irish Pensioners and the Trainor School of Irish Dancing are a few of the people who have lamented the loss.