A new hostel for homeless Defence Forces veterans was officially opened in Cobh earlier today, with plans afoot for another facility in the city.
The development, spearheaded by The Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann), otherwise known as ONE, was officially opened by Minister for Defence Simon Coveney.
Located on Harbour Row, Cobh, the new development provides a safe and secure five en-suite bedroom hostel alongside a veteran support centre.
Minister Coveney congratulated ONE on the opening of the new facility.
“This is a proud day for all members of Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann as the project to convert an old social welfare building into a facility with accommodation and a drop-in advice centre for veterans comes to fruition," he said.
ONE is a registered Irish charity for veterans of the Defence Forces.
It offers former Defence Forces veterans housing and support, with the ultimate goal of accessing permanent accommodation, improving mental health and preventing future homelessness.
The opening of the new facility in Cobh, Brú na Farraige, adds to others run by ONE elsewhere in the country but is the first of its kind in Munster.
With the addition of the new Cork facility, ONE will provide just under 20,000 beds to veterans of the Defence Forces annually, with 90% of those helped moving on to permanent housing.
The organisation has worked closely with the Office of Public Works to secure the use of the former social welfare office in Cobh.
Funding for the new facility has been granted through a number of different outlets, including the Dormant Accounts Fund and the Defence Forces Benevolent Fund in conjunction with fundraising initiatives.
ONE says plans for a similar facility in Cork city, Brú Uí Choillean, are underway in partnership with Cork City Council.
Speaking about the launch of the new hostel in Cobh and ONE’s ambitions, chief executive of the charity Ollie O’Connor said:
“Cobh has a strong heritage of military service, so we are delighted to announce the opening of the new Cobh development, the first veteran hostel in Munster.
“90% of the veterans helped by ONE escape the cycle of homelessness and move on to permanent housing and this is a key motivation behind the work we do.
“The work of ONE can be summarised in four words – support, comradeship, advocacy, and remembrance.”
Mallow native Diarmuid Higgins, who was inaugurated as the national president of ONE before the opening of the Cobh facility, said the new hostel is located in a prime location due to its proximity to the Naval Base.
Mr Higgins, who served in the navy for 21 years, said that he himself found the transition from military life to civilian life difficult at the beginning.
He expressed his gratitude to everyone who has donated to the new facility which will help others who may be struggling.
“We put out an appeal to furnish the building and the response from the wider Defence family has been phenomenal in that so many serving personnel and retired personnel have donated towards the house,” he told.
For further information on ONE or to make a donation to the charity visit: one-veterans.org