Fair City star slams decision to ban Stamullen stage school from using parish hall

Fair City actor George McMahon has slammed the decision of a Stamullen priest to ban his stage school from using the local parish hall.

The RTE star has operated Glitz Stage School along with his wife Karen Smyth McMahon from the facility in the village for the past six years but was told that the new parish priest has other plans for the hall and he would have to find an alternative location for his 70 strong cohort of students.

The fuming actor who lives in Bettystown was originally informed that no community group would be given access to the building going forward but today the parish priest confirmed that the stage school would be the only one left out.

The determined RTE star has vowed to fight the decision and launched online petition that he intends to present to the Bishop of the diocese pleading with the church not to dash the dreams of local children who were looking forward to returning to class after 18 months of covid restrictions.

“Please Open The Parish Hall Back to the Community” has received almost 500 signatures from outraged local parents who are up in the arms about the move.

George and Rachel Mc Mahon at Stamullen Hall Pic Seamus Farrelly

Speaking on the turn of events George fumed:

“We are absolutely devastated and are heartbroken for the all of the local children who were so excited to come back to class.

“We were thrilled when we got the go ahead from the government that we could resume our classes when restrictions were lifted and text all of the parents saying we couldn’t wait to welcome the children back.

“Two weeks later we had to send another text saying that we no longer had a premises to operate from and we have been scrambling around to try and find an alternative but so far we have had no luck.

“We only found this out by chance, we sent in a courtesy email to the parish hall saying that we were delighted with the news that we are going to be able to return on the night of the 20th of September.

“The secretary got back to us and said we don’t know yet whether you can use the hall, the parish priest wants to put his own stamp on thing and we will have to get back to you.

“We rang back and they told us we have no plans to open the hall to any parish community groups, that it is the churches to do with it what they want. We were just absolutely gobsmacked.”

“99 percent of our students were baptised in the parish so these are his parishioners that he is letting down.

Actor George Mc Mahon with the Notice on Stamullen Church Media site about the use of Stamullen Hall Pic Seamus Farrelly

"The parish hall is for the parishioners.

"We are only there for two and a half hours on a Friday evening, I'm sure the room could be used for multiple purposes."

George says he is pleased that the priest has made a u turn in allowing other community groups to return but has pleaded with him to take into consideration the wishes of his congregation. He added:

“We are still gutted to be the only group not allowed return. Our students will be disappointed and we continue to believe that Fr. Ferris has got this wrong. We’ll continue to campaign, with the community and get the parish to make the right decision, we will not give up.”

In a statement the parish priest said:

"The Parish Pastoral Centre is not being closed, and was never being closed. In fact, quite the opposite, going forward there are plans that will mean hundreds of children, their parents and grandparents will be using the parish facilities more than ever before.

"Prior to the Covid pandemic, only five small voluntary groups availed of the facilities and when Government guidelines allow it to reopen these groups will be welcomed back. There will also be availability for other small groups who may wish to use the facilities. (To apply, please contact the Parish office)

"Regrettably, very regrettably, the only business activity that availed of the parish facilities prior to Covid can now no longer be facilitated when it reopens as that room is being turned into an Oratory for the very practical reason of facilitating weekday masses and financial reasons.

"I hope this clarifies the position."