An Óige forced to sell 8 hostels
An Óige is closing and selling eight of its hostels in counties Cork, Kerry, Wicklow, Galway, Donegal and Wexford, because of its "precarious financial position" according to a letter issued on 21 October to the managers of the hostels to be closed.
The letter stated An Óige, The Irish Youth Hostel Association, "has been in a precarious financial position for some time". It went on to say that the falling overnight stays in many of these more basic hostels has resulted in an inability to reinvest in them.
In a statement on 11 November An Óige stated that it had deliberated over the closures for some time. It said it was closing the hostels "because of the need to secure the long-term future of the association".
The letter and statement referred to the "increasing level of statutory requirements, in terms of health and safety and employment legislation that have impacted greatly on the financial viability of the whole association".
An Óige went on to say that these health, safety and environment factors had made it impossible for the National Council of An Óige to invest further in the hostels.
The association said it was closing these particular hostels because of their low overnight occupancy level, which at 10 per cent represented less than 7 per cent of An Óige's overnights nationally.
It has said that the money from the sale of these hostels will be reinvested in improving and upgrading the 23 remaining hostels. It also said the money would allow An Óige to purchase more modern property. The letter said that the sale would permit An Óige to address "our current financial situation" as well as fund new hostels in Knockcree, Co Wicklow and Errigal, Co. Donegal.
An Óige, which was founded in 1932, has been in financial difficulty for some years. The most recent financial statements produced by the organisaton, which were audited, show that in 2003 the company had a "net movement in funds" of over €138,000.
But this gain was largely due to a profit of €230,800 from selling property. The accounts also show that the organisation has debts of over €835,000 that it would have to pay in one year, while there was only €416,390 owed to it for that year.
In the last three years An Óige sold its Limerick city centre hostel and its hostel at Glencree, Co. Wicklow. This year it had to close hostels at Arthurstown and Valencia Island.
Once these eight hostels now earmarked for closure have been sold, An Óige will have sold 12 of its 35 hostels in three years.
An Óige recently appealed for funds to assist in the restoration of their Aghavanagh Hostel in Co. Wicklow.
It estimated that the redevelopment will cost €5 million. The government pledged €1.24 million.
The hostels that are to be sold are in Allihies, Co. Cork; Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry; Ballinclea, Co. Wicklow; Baltyboys, Co. Wicklow; Ball Hill, Co. Donegal; Killary Harbour, Co. Galway; Crohy Head, Co. Donegal; and Rosslare Harbour, Co. Wexford.