Competition hots up for diaspora museum

The CHQ building: rumoured to have assembled a strong bid

The CHQ building: rumoured to have assembled a strong bid

Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 02:15

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the best diaspora museum of them all? This month saw the Fáilte Ireland applications deadline for a partner to build the new national diaspora centre, which the Government hopes will attract future hordes of wallet-waving Americans tracing their family roots.

The State tourism body says the next stage of the process will involve the assessment of the applications by an “expert group”. So who are the wise ones?

“The expert group has yet to be established. That process is ongoing and will continue through August. That may involve us seeking more information from the applications that made it through to the second round,” said a spokesman from Fáilte Ireland.

Prominent among the runners and riders is the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, which some say views itself as the favourite. So keen is Kingstown that the trust overseeing its bid has already registered nine separate diaspora-linked trading names, including National Diaspora Centre, the likely moniker for the new facility flagged by Fáilte Ireland. There’s confidence for you.

Also rumoured to have assembled a strong bid is the CHQ centre in Dublin’s docklands, owned by Neville Isdell, the former Coca-Cola chief executive. Isdell has apparently called in cavalry in the shape of CHL Consulting, which worked on the development of the Titanic Belfast tourist development.

Isdell, who snapped up CHQ for €10 million a year ago, clearly believes his proposal is, just like his favourite drink, the real thing.

He is rumoured to have put up another €12 million to bring the diaspora centre to the unused vaults in the belly of CHQ.

The centre has even installed a purpose built 10 gigabyte broadband connection for a special multi-media installation.

Others through to the second round include one led by Cork City Council, another involving local authorities in the Shannon region, the Birr Workhouse in Offaly and one proposal for Rockhill House barracks in Letterkenny.

A national competition, indeed . . .

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