Coveney calls for cool heads in debate on €80m Cork events centre

Tánaiste says legal issues over the €30m State aid investment need to be resolved

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has urged people not to turn the delay in starting work on the Cork Event Centre into “a political football”. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has urged people not to turn the delay in starting work on the Cork Event Centre into “a political football”. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA

 

Work on a €80 million events centre planned for Cork will commence before the summer, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said.

He called for “cool heads” and urged people not to turn the delay in starting work on the Cork Event Centre into “a political football”.

Such a move would only add to the difficulties in resolving legal issues regarding State aid for the project, he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the sod on the Cork Event Centre project for the 6,000-seater enterprise at the site of the former Beamish and Crawford brewery in the city centre on February 12th, 2016. But more than three years later, work has yet to begin on the event centre itself.

The project has been delayed over issues regarding the funding of the project with developers BAM seeking to have the State’s investment in the project increase from €20 million to €30 million as the overall cost of the project rose from €53 million to close to €80 million.

Solution

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Coveney remained resolutely confident that a solution will be found and predicted work would still commence before the summer.

He said he understood people’s concerns and frustrations over the delay but he insisted the Government and Cork City Council, along with BAM and promoters Live Nation, who are pencilled in to operate the events centre, remain fully committed to the project.

Mr Coveney said government officials were trying to find agreement between the Attorney General’s Office and Cork City Council on the best way legally to deal with the issue of State funding for the project.

‘Understandably cautious’

“We have had to get legal advice to reassure us we can take a different approach in a way that’s consistent with the original tendering process. Civil servants are understandably cautious that decisions are made in the appropriate way if we are going to contribute €30 million of public money to a project.”

“I would appeal to people here not to turn this into a political football that becomes hugely negative and then, because of that negative cycle, we make finalising the arrangements for this project even more difficult.

“What we need now are some cool heads for the next couple of weeks to try and get the legals of this project clarified, once and for all, so we can move ahead with it,” said Mr Coveney. He said the easy thing upon encountering blockages and delays would be to abandon the project but he was standing by it.