‘No excuse’ for Cork event centre delays says top businessman

One of Cork’s best-known businessmen has blasted the lack of progress on the long-mooted events centre, saying it is missing out on hosting events like the Pendulum Summit in Dublin.

Publican Benny McCabe, who owns a range of heritage bars in Cork and Dublin such as The Bodega super pub, said the ability of the Convention Centre Dublin to host 7,000 Pendulum Summit delegates highlighted the “glaring opportunities being missed” as the Cork events centre saga rumbled on.

A long tendering process overseen by Cork City Council saw BAM Construction win the project, being granted €20m in state aid to assist its €50m, 6,000-seat centre on the former Beamish and Crawford brewery site on Cork’s South Main Street.

Despite former taoiseach Enda Kenny turning the sod on the project before the general election in February 2016, there has been little progress, with redesigns and budget constraints stalling the project. A further €10m in state aid has been requested.

Mr McCabe said: “Cork is slipping behind — Kerry has one, Limerick will probably have one before Cork. People are going to look back and say this was one of the great acts of stupidity and missed opportunities. Turning the sod prior to an election will be remembered in Cork for a long time for all the wrong reasons.” He added 80 jobs could be created if there was an events centre to attract visitors to Cork.

“We’d be hopping up and down in excitement if we had an event like the Pendulum Summit in January. There is no excuse — the money argument doesn’t stand up for me. We are on the cusp of huge things in Cork, this would be the jewel in the crown but we are being stymied,” he said.

Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Declan Hurley said the Pendulum Summit showed the need for the Cork region to have its own events centre.

“After attending the Pendulum Summit and seeing Dublin’s convention centre for the first time, I can really see the benefits of what a convention centre in Cork city could do,” he said.

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