Historian accuses critics of using Mary Robinson Centre as ‘political-academic punchbag’

Slurs like ‘vanity projects’ cheap and below the belt.

‘Project will materialise.’

Sligo News File Online

Historian and author, Terry Reilly has slammed critics of the Ballina-based Mary Robinson Centre, saying that “despite the small-mindedness of certain political and elitist academic/archival interests the project will materialise…”

Historian and author, Terry Reilly.
Historian and author,
Terry Reilly.

The former Western People editor in chief, who is a member of the local Robinson Centre fundraising committee, called as far back as 2012 for such a project to be based in the town in his book, Amazing Mayo Stories.

Commenting on recent attacks, Mr. Reilly said, “it’s a real pity the Mary Robinson centre is being used as a political/academic punchbag.”

“Jackie Clarke gave his collection to Ballina and this year the Collection is expected to clock up in excess of 30,000 visits. Likewise, Mary Robinson has remained loyal to her town; she was invited to go elsewhere with her collection gathered over a lifetime of service: she chose her native town.

“Slurs like ‘vanity projects’ are cheap and below the belt,” he said.

“Sure Dublin would love to have it…and would find the money from

Visiting Somalia...Mary Robinson served as seventh, and first woman, president and United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights
Visiting Somalia…Mary Robinson served as seventh, and first woman, President and United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights

State coffers to house, archive and staff it. The West has been denuded of opportunity over the years. We have to trek to Dublin for everything and pay top whack when we get there. Ballina is not in outer Mongolia.  Ballina is the same distance to Dublin as Dublin is to Ballina.

“It is served by train and bus, and is only 45 minutes from Knock International Airport – the Airport no one in the capital wanted, remember!  Ballina is also the salmon Capital of Ireland, home to one of the country’s longest running summer festivals, and ancestral seat of US Vice-President, Joe Biden.It serves a large section of North Mayo/West Sligo.

“The people who really care about the town and the region know the Mary Robinson Centre will be advantageous in creating jobs and will bring students from all over the world here, apart from other benefits.

Mary Robinson presented with United States Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Mary Robinson presented with United States Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009.

He also noted that “a good share of the money needed is being raised by the Mary Robinson Centre Foundation internationally.

“Despite the small-mindedness of certain political and elitist academic/archival interests,” he said, “the project will materialise and play its part in developing attractions so desperately needed, attractions which would not have been provided by detractors whose interests lie elsewhere.”