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– Community Finance Ireland delivers €1.4 million of support in Louth since 2016 –

“This is a much-needed space that young people in Carlingford have asked for and which they can make their own while also feeling feel safe and supported.” That is according to the team at Carlingford Community Development Ltd (CCDL) who recently opened a new Youth Hub and Café in the Foy Centre, which was supported by a bridging loan from Community Finance Ireland (CFI). 

Established in 2002, the CCDL manages the Foy Community Centre, a multi-purpose community space, at Dundalk Street, Carlingford. Through consultations with young people in the local community, CCDL took action to address a rise in anti-social behaviour in the local community, by converting an existing vacant café within the Foy Centre into a dedicated Youth Hub.

Erin Finegan joined the CCDL in 2020 as a Youth Volunteer, working to improve community initiatives for young people in the area.  She said:

“The Carlingford Community Development team has been at the heart of Carlingford’s community sector for twenty years and we’re delighted to create a dedicated space for young people here in the Foy Centre. We’ve run some really successful initiatives with young people in the area over the past year and the feedback they shared was that they needed a space of their own to meet and socialise and feel connected. We knew we could make that possible for them with the right financial support.

On foot of Louth Leader Grant Aid we approached Community Finance Ireland and they could not have been more straight-forward and the team were so easy to work with. Once the paperwork was submitted, we could access the funds within 2-3 weeks which meant we could get started with work on the café straight away.”

Community Finance Ireland Carlingford Community Centre
Photographed at The Carlingford Community Development Centre, Co. Louth are (L to R): Colm Prendergast Client Executive (CFI), David Savage Chairperson and Mrs Erin Finegan Youth Volunteer.

Community Finance Ireland provides social finance loans to community and volunteer-led organisations that drive social impact through sport, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises. Operating a model similar to traditional credit unions, all loan repayments go toward supporting other communities across Ireland. To support CCDL’s refurbishments, Community Finance Ireland provided a bridging loan of €20,400.

Colm Prendergast, CFI Client Relationship Executive for North Leinster said:

“It has been a pleasure to work with the CCDL team and we’re delighted to see how the newly established Youth Café has transformed the local community’s relationship with its young people. The café has already hosted several different initiatives including a Women’s Aid outreach programme and English lessons for Ukrainian refugees. In the evening time, the café is a safe space for local young people to meet and socialise while being supervised and supported.

Supporting Communities in Louth

Between 2016 and 2022, Community Finance Ireland delivered €16.2 million in social finance supports to volunteer and community-led organisations in Leinster, including €1.39 million in support of projects in Louth.

Based on a Social Value analysis undertaken by the Rural Community Network in Northern Ireland, CFI has established that has established that its funding solution delivers a return on investment that creates a multiplier effect of 3.42 times the initial investment through wider social benefits such as improved community health and increased employment opportunities and skill levels.

A total of €33.5m million has been allocated to organisation and sports clubs organisations across Ireland between 2016 and 2022.

If you want to unlock a grant award or have a community idea that needs finance get in touch with a team member near you.

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– Community Finance Ireland delivers €7 million of support in Munster region since 2016-

A new community garden and café will open its doors at Killaloe Ballina Community and Family Resource Centre following major renovations. The renovations have been completed in time for the centre to celebrate its 20th anniversary in early July, thanks to support from Community Finance Ireland (CFI).

Well established in the local community since its foundation in 2003, the Family Resource Centre moved into the former Garda Barracks on The Green in 2017.

With the support of Community Finance Ireland, refurbishments were undertaken to make the building fully accessible; to upgrade toilet facilities; repurpose outbuildings; and to landscape the rear of the building into a community garden. The outbuildings now accommodate a training kitchen and café which will be open to the public in Autumn 2023.

Providing training and education, information services and tailored supports for young people, elderly people, parents, refugees and those with disabilities, the Family Resource Centre also offers rooms for hire to local community organistions, including the newly established training kitchen.

Kees Duson, Manager of Killaloe Ballina Family Resource Centre, said:

“When we first opened our doors in 2003, we were based in a small residential apartment, which we outgrew very quickly. We spent the next decade located in a commercial premises on Main Street in Killaloe, which, while it gave us fantastic footfall and helped many people in the community to discover our services and supports, the steep hill meant it was difficult for older people in our community and for those with mobility issues to access.

When we agreed a long-term lease with the Office of Public Works for this building, we knew we’d found a home for the community that was full of potential. This is a very old building and it had been empty for four or five years before we took it over so it needed a lot of work to address wear and tear and damp and bring it up to standard on accessibility and energy ratings. There weren’t many options for community groups seeking funding around that time so we were delighted to discover Community Finance Ireland’s tailored supports for volunteer and community-led organisations. It was exactly what we were looking for.”

Killaloe Ballina FRC Community Finance Ireland Community Loans
Pictured at Killaloe Ballina Family Resource Centre’s new premises in Co. Clare: Gillian Costelloe, Chairperson; Bróna Moriarty; Nora Keogh, Client Relationship Manager for Munster at Community Finance Ireland; Linda Stainsby; Marie Moroney and Kees Duson, Killaloe Ballina FRC Manager.

Nora Keogh, CFI Client Relationship Manager for the Munster Region, said:

“We’re delighted to have played our part in supporting the Killaloe Ballina Community and Family Resource Centre through these works and to have helped make this renovation possible. The team approached us with a dream of what could be made possible with this fantastic building which would provide an accessible and welcoming space for so many individuals and groups in the community, delivering a broad range of activities, courses and events including art and crafts, computer classes and cookery programmes for all ages and abilities, youth services including a youth cafe, to name a few- and now with the expanded rooms, the new training kitchen, community cafe and garden space, all of that has been made possible. I have no doubt that for their next 20 years, this team of change-makers will be dreaming even bigger for the local community.”

Community Finance Ireland provided Killaloe Ballina Community and Family Resource Centre with a long-term loan of €218,000 to undertake the repairs and renovations required on the buildings. Further funding was provided by the Town and Village Renewal Scheme from the Department of Rural and Community Development via Clare County Council, and LEADER funding from both North Tipperary Development Company & Clare Local Development Company.

Between 2016 and 2021, Community Finance Ireland delivered €7 million in social finance supports to volunteer and community-led organisations in Munster, including €1.7 million in support of projects in Clare, and €1 million in support of projects in Tipperary.

If your community group is  looking for finance, get in touch today or follow us on Twitter.  

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– Community Finance Ireland delivers €3.8million in support of local sports clubs –

The oldest skiff-rowing club in Dublin will be launching their traditional skiffs from a modern new pontoon at the mouth of the River Liffey thanks to support from Community Finance Ireland (CFI).

Founded in 1936, St Patrick’s Rowing Club in Ringsend has taken the All-Ireland Senior Skiff Race title 16 times in the last 20 years and has secured gold in international competitions in London and Italy. The club now boasts a membership of 100 people, aged from 9 to 90.

Treasurer at St. Patrick’s Rowing Club, David Cox said that the new infrastructure will enable the club to streamline their activities – getting their heavy training boats on the water with less manpower – and crucially make their boats fully accessible for wheelchair users. He said:

“Skiff racing originates from hobbling – a competitive business which saw working boats race to approaching ships to pilot them into port and win the contract of unloading and loading their cargo.. When this practice was outlawed in 1936, clubs began to appear all along the Dublin coastline and beyond, with our own club here in Ringsend being the first. So much of our community is steeped in this rich history but we also want to give our members the best, most advanced infrastructure that we can and importantly, to make it accessible to everyone in the community. This new pontoon means we can get everyone out on the water to enjoy this fantastic sport.”

Traditional skiff boats are 25 feet long, housing four rowers and a cox.

Pictured at St Patrick’s Rowing Club’s Ringsend base in Dublin City are the club’s youth members

Visiting the new pontoon, Barry Symes, Head of Community Finance Ireland ROI, said:

“Watching the team here at St Patrick’s Rowing Club working together – it really is all hands on deck to move these skiffs down the water but with this new pontoon you can see how much easier that task is for them. It’s taking the strain off the existing members, getting them out on the water quicker, where they want to be and crucially, it’s opening up the sport to a even more people by making the boats more accessible.

“After recent open days, St Patrick’s have welcomed over 60 new members in the last few weeks. The team here – David, Phil, Irene and Richie – have all been involved since childhood and they’re passing their love of the sport on to the next generation. There’s a rich history here in Ringsend and there’s no doubt of the club’s future either.”

Community Finance Ireland provide tailored social finance supports to grassroots and community organisations across Ireland. In 2022, the team delivered over €3.8million in social finance loans to sports clubs such as St Patrick’s Rowing Club which accessed a bridging loan of €40,000 to undertake the planned developments.

This bridging enabled St Patrick’s to unlock two approved grants, from the Sports Capital Grant and from Dublin Waste to Energy Community Gain Projects Grant Scheme.

If you and your sports club need advice on funding options available to you, get in touch today or follow us on Twitter for the latest Community Finance Ireland news.

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We are thrilled to announce that Community Finance Ireland (CFI) has attained the prestigious ISO 9001 Quality Management System accreditation on an all-island basis.

This significant accomplishment reflects our unwavering commitment to excellence in serving our clients and advancing positive social impact.

The ISO 9001 standard is built upon a set of quality management principles, including a strong customer focus, active involvement of top management, a process-oriented approach, and continuous improvement. By adhering to these principles, we have established a solid foundation for organizational excellence.

Benefits to CFI and Our Clients
This achievement brings several advantages to both Community Finance Ireland and our valued clients:

Increased Efficiencies: With all our processes aligned and comprehended by every member of our organization, we can enhance the efficiency of our internal controls, streamlining our operations and ensuring optimal performance.

Enhanced Reputation: The ISO 9001 accreditation further strengthens our reputation as a credible and genuine charity and social enterprise. It underscores our dedication to advocating for positive social impact and demonstrates our commitment to delivering high-quality services.

Clear Objectives and Commitment: By assessing the overall context of our organization and understanding the expectations of those affected by our work, we can clearly define our objectives. This enables us to showcase our unwavering commitment to excellence and the pursuit of our mission.

Customer Focus: We reaffirm our dedication to putting our customers first, consistently meeting their needs, and enhancing their satisfaction. This recognition ensures that our clients’ experience with Community Finance Ireland remains at the heart of everything we do.

Compliance and Governance: Attaining the ISO 9001 accreditation guarantees that we meet the necessary statutory and regulatory requirements, strengthening our compliance and governance practices.

We extend our gratitude to our dedicated team, whose hard work and commitment have made this achievement possible. We are excited about the opportunities this accreditation brings and the continued positive impact we can make together.

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– Community Finance Ireland delivers almost €1 million of financial support in Cork since 2016 –

Na Piarsaigh GAA, a thriving football and hurling club with almost 800 playing members, is looking to the future with further expansion plans, after support from Community Finance Ireland (CFI) enabled the club to restructure existing bank debt.

First founded by a group of local schoolboys, Na Piarsaigh GAA Club has been at the centre of the Fairhill community in Co. Cork since 1943. As the club prepares to celebrate its 80th anniversary, the board are outlining plans for further expansion to meet the demands of a growing membership.

During the recession, the club experienced financial difficulties, which former Club Chairman Denis O’Neill says led to an anxious time for the board:

“The recession hit us badly, we fell back on payments and were very worried. When we dealt with the bank, they were dealing with us like we were a business. It was at that time that James O’Connor, Selector and Club Accountant at Na Piarsaigh, brought Community Finance Ireland to the attention of the Board.”

Na Pairsaigh GAA Sports Capital Grant Community Finance Ireland
At Na Piarsaigh GAA club Grounds Fairhill Cork City are L to R:) Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (local player & legend); Nora Keogh, CFI Client Relationship Manager Munster and Daire Connery (current club legend). As the club restructures its finances with CFI support and advice all looks well for the future legacy of this fantastic volunteer led GAA Club.

Community Finance Ireland provides social finance loans to community and volunteer-led organisations that drive social impact through sport, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises. Operating a model similar to traditional credit unions, all loan repayments go toward supporting other communities across Ireland. CFI provided Na Piarsaigh Hurling and Football Club with a long-term loan of €500,000 to restructure their existing bank loans.

Club Chairman Na Piarsaigh GAA Denis O’Neill said:

“I particularly like that Community Finance Ireland are a non-profit organisation. CFI understand that we are volunteers who just want to provide quality sports services for our local community. They understand where we are coming from and the challenges we faced as a voluntary board.”

Nora Keogh, CFI Client Relationship Manager for the Munster Region, said:

“Na Piarsaigh are an important hub for the local community with members playing at under six right up to senior level. Beyond the players and their families, the club also offers accessible facilities to the wider community through hire of the hall, and their indoor arena, the first of its kind to be built in Ireland which is a great source of pride for the club. We’re delighted to have helped the club refinance and find a pathway to become debt free. The legacies of the recession still have a hold on many clubs across Ireland and we’re proud to help them pave a way forward so that like Na Piarsaigh, they can plan for the future, rather than feel bogged down by the past.”

O’Neill says the club hopes to develop new facilities for the local community and upgrade the public walkway. They hope to secure adjacent land to accommodate an additional training pitch.

Between 2016 and 2022, Community Finance Ireland delivered €7.8m in social finance supports to volunteer and community-led organisations in Munster, including €0.8m in support of projects in Cork.

A total of £16.9m (€18.5m) has been allocated to 162 sports clubs and organisations across Ireland between 2016 and 2022.

If your club is  looking for finance, get in touch today or follow us on Twitter.  

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Positive and dynamic professional, Mary Nohilly, joins Community Finance Ireland to help volunteers and charities with lending.

Community Finance Ireland is thrilled to announce the appointment of Mary Nohilly as Client Relationship Manager for the Connacht and Donegal Regions.

With a diverse background in the banking and business lending sector, Mary brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success.  During her tenure with financial services, Mary held several key positions, including Business Manager in Roscommon and Dublin & Galway.

In her previous role at the Irish Wheelchair Association, Mary successfully developed and implemented programs to support young school leavers in Tuam, Co Galway. Her efforts focused on enabling people with disabilities to participate fully in the community through personal and social inclusion initiatives.

Mary holds a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree from Dublin City University and is a Qualified Financial Advisor.

Mary Nohilly Community Finance Ireland
Community Finance Ireland’s newly appointed Client Relationship Executive in Connacht and Donegal, Mary Nohilly.

Community Finance Ireland offers tailored financial supports for sports clubs, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises. Between 2016 and 2022, the organisation funded 51 projects to the value of €5.4 million across the Connacht and Donegal region.

Welcoming the appointment Barry Symes, Head of Community Finance (ROI) said:

“We are delighted to welcome Mary to our team, Her extensive experience, strong work ethic, and dedication to making a positive impact align perfectly with our organization’s values and goals. We look forward to leveraging her expertise to further enhance our client service and success.”

Do you have a project in mind? If you are based in counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Leitrim or Sligo get in touch with Mary today. She is ready to hear from you.

Mary Nohilly Community Finance Ireland Contact

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A historic community hall in Crosspatrick, Johnstown, Co. Kilkenny, has undergone extensive renovations, transforming it into a vibrant hub of activity for residents of all ages. Thanks to the support and advice of Community Finance Ireland (CFI), the Crosspatrick Community Group successfully revitalized the hall with a term and bridging loan in social finance, enabling the facility to offer a wide range of activities, from table tennis and spin classes to bridge tournaments.

Originally constructed in 1810 as a church, the building later served as a school for the local rural community before being repurposed as a community hall in 1950. Over the years, it has become a central gathering place for residents, hosting various events, including school activities, coffee mornings, card nights, and exercise classes. The hall’s renovation project, initiated in 2020, addressed the building’s deteriorating condition, upgrading essential elements such as windows, toilets, and the kitchen to ensure accessibility and compliance with modern standards.

Thomas O’Connell, the Secretary of the Crosspatrick Community Group, highlighted the hall’s significance, stating,

“People would never get together if it wasn’t for the hall. For as long as I can remember, it has been at the heart of this local community.” The renovations have already had a positive impact, fostering a sense of community and providing a space where laughter and connection can thrive. In addition to its current offerings, the Crosspatrick Community Group aims to establish a business hub within the hall later this year.”

Crosspatrick Hall Community Finance Ireland
Pictured at Cross Patrick Hall in Co. Kilkenny: Head of Republic of Ireland Business for Community Finance Ireland Barry Symes and Jim O’Grady, Volunteer at Cross Patrick Hall.

Barry Symes, Head of Community Finance Ireland ROI, visited the renovated hall to commend Thomas and the Crosspatrick Community Group on their successful project. He emphasized the collaborative effort that made the renovations possible, stating:

“The renovations undertaken here are a fantastic testament to the people power of volunteers from the Crosspatrick Community Group, who have seen this project through from the outset.” Symes also acknowledged the community’s dedicated fundraising efforts and the financial support received from Community Finance Ireland, a Leader grant for Rural Development, and a community grant from the Bord na Mona Powergen Bruckana Windfarm.

Community Finance Ireland has been instrumental in supporting community and voluntary organizations in Kilkenny, approving a total of €2.28 million in social finance loans since 2016. The organization takes a flexible approach to funding, bridging gaps and providing loans to meet the diverse needs of community groups.

Thomas expressed his gratitude for the support received from Community Finance Ireland, stating,

“”Our experience with Community Finance Ireland was really fantastic. Barry helped us with advice on our Leader grant application as well as the bridging loan to get the project off the ground. That support is the reason we’re here today.

The Crosspatrick community hall’s transformation stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and the impact of social finance in empowering local communities.

Community Finance Ireland continues to deliver social finance solutions that support various community initiatives, sports projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises. As part of the UCIT Group, Community Finance Ireland is the most progressive social finance provider on the island of Ireland.

If you and your community facilIf you, your board and volunteers need advice on how to fund a new idea for your community hall get in touch today or follow us on Twitter.  

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This week Ulster Community Investment Trust Ltd t/a Community Finance Ireland held its all island Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Belfast’s Clifton House. As part of the AGM, the team officially launched its Annual Report for 2022.

The report published today highlights the following key takeaways:

  • Ulster Region: £2.8m (€3.2m) of loans into 28 organisations
  • Leinster Region: £3.1m (€3.5m) of loans into 38 organisations
  • Munster Region: £0.9m (€1.0m) of loans into 16 organisations
  • Connacht Region: £0.6m (€0.7m) of loans into 7 organisations
  • £6.5m to 231 communities via much needed grant payments funded by the Department of Communities NI and in collaboration with NICVA
  • £5.8m in loan support to 186 SME clients through the management of the Invest NI sponsored NISBLF Fund II since 2018, in collaboration with Enterprise Northern Ireland.

With a client portfolio, whose core assets are predominately its volunteers, the 89 projects saw their own belief mirrored back to them and secured term or bridging loans which supported them in:

  • Providing access to facilities and services for their local area
  • Expanding their businesses and growing their memberships
  • Improving their sustainability and helping them achieve their long-term goals

In what was another extraordinary year for the history the organisation and for the communities and citizens on the island Donal Traynor Group Chief Executive highlighted the following in his welcome video message:

To learn more about Community Finance Ireland and discover the inspiring stories of the organisations we supported in 2022, please visit here.

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Dolmen Leisure Company CLG has announced it has successfully secured €175,000 in LEADER funding, which has been formally approved by the Donegal Local Development Company and Donegal LCDC, to establish a new Thatching School at the Dolmen Centre in Kilclooney, Portnoo, Co. Donegal.

The project, developed by the committee of Dolmen Leisure Company CLG, aims to support the continuation of the craft of thatching, which is an integral aspect of vernacular architecture in Donegal and Ireland.

With 75% of the construction costs covered by LEADER funding, the committee is actively raising funds to secure the remaining 25% through other funding and donations. The Thatching School will provide training in thatching delivered by master thatchers, who are keen to pass on their skills and knowledge. This unique educational facility will create employment opportunities and boost tourism in the area, offering a rewarding role to those who are seeking to work for themselves.

Speaking about the initiative, Patsy Harkin from Dolmen Leisure Company CLG, said: 

“One of our founding members of The Dolmen Centre, Conal Shovlin, first mooted this idea for Portnoo and tried to secure funding over 20 years ago so we’re thrilled to see our plans come to fruition after all these years. We’re excited to have professionally trained thatchers pass on their skills and keep this dying trade alive. The Thatching School and its construction is no longer a dream but will now be a reality.”

Dolmen Thatched Cottage 1
Sinead McLaughlin, Rural Development Manager DLDC, Barry Symes, Head of Community Finance Ireland ROI, County Councillor Anthony Molloy with the Dolmen Centre Committee and members of the local community who came to celebrate the announcement of the LEADER funding.

Sinéad McLaughlin, Rural Development Manager, DLDC, expressed her support for the Thatching School:

“DLDC is delighted to support the Dolmen Leisure Company CLG in their efforts to establish the Thatching School through its LEADER programme. This project will not only contribute to the preservation of an important cultural heritage but also create employment opportunities and boost tourism in the area.  We look forward to seeing the Thatching School thrive and the continuation of this unique craft.”

Dolmen Leisure also thanked Community Finance Ireland for providing interim finance for the project.  Barry Symes, Head of Community Finance ROI, said: 

The team at Dolmen Leisure Company CLG are a fantastic example of visionary community spirit. We are delighted to be able to help finance this project and welcome the opportunities both of employment and future tourism that the project will bring to the area”.

Paddy Mc Hugh Building Contractors Ltd has been appointed as the local contractor, and Cornerstone Architecture in Ardara will be responsible for the design and supervision of the build. The planning permission was approved by Donegal County Council in mid-2022.

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First cross-border workshop held in Derry~Londonderry as part of delivery programme for project supported through the International Fund for Ireland.

An ambitious cross-border project is bringing people together to deliver a capacity building programme that will make border communities more sustainable.

NetWORKS23 is funded by the International Fund for Ireland’s (IFI) Communities in Partnership Programme (CiPP). It has a strong focus on developing and embedding sustainable relationships on a cross-border basis through supporting cooperation and innovation between groups and organisations North and South.

The project is being led by Community Finance Ireland in partnership with Rural Community Network. Both organisations bring a wealth of experience in social enterprise, finance, peace building and reconciliation.

Through a shared learning approach, NetWORKS 23 will facilitate cross-community and cross-border engagement with people who have had limited opportunities for collaborative working. The Project targets community and voluntary organisations in Derry, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Fermanagh, Donegal and Tyrone.

Attending Networks23 event in Greysteel were left to right: Damian McAteer Community Finance Ireland Group Chair, Donal Traynor, Community Finance Ireland Group CEO, Columba Mailey, Manager of the Vale Centre, Bridie Mullen, Board Director Vale Centre and Paddy Harte IFI Chair.

Participants to date have attended residentials in Sligo and a cross-border workshop in Greysteel at the Vale Centre. The daylong seminar provided practical insight into the Vale Centre’s commercial activities,  revenue generation and how a social enterprise approach feeds into the public and social services offered to the wider community.

NetWORKS23 aims to build progressive partnerships that will deliver meaningful benefits for communities on both sides of the border and raise awareness of the issues and challenges while also contributing to the wider peace building work of the IFI.

Commenting on the project, IFI Chair Paddy Harte says;

“The NetWORKS23 Project is timely as border areas have traditionally suffered from isolation, lack of investment and the ongoing legacy of The Troubles. It is important to examine how we can improve reconciliation between rural Unionist and Nationalist communities to help build resilience and develop local leadership. This initiative will provide the necessary training for participants to examine the long-term development of their own projects within a wider peace and reconciliation context.

The IFI is committed to delivering cross-community and cross-border outreach, encouraging challenging conversations to deal with a range of issues. We are particularly pleased to support this project under CiPP, which values innovation and the creation of positive and long-lasting relationships between cross-border communities who share similar challenges.”

Donal Traynor Group CEO of Community Finance Ireland had this to say:

“Community Finance Ireland are delighted to lend their support to this cross-border initiative. Our support for the ongoing prosperity and development of all communities has been in place for over 21 years and our commitment remains for this generation and the next.”

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