High Court challenge over tourism project grant

High Court challenge over tourism project grant

The developer of a tourism project in Dublin's south inner city has brought a High Court challenge over Failte Ireland's refusal to include it on a grant scheme, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

The action has been brought by Frontier Entertainment Ltd which has developed a tourist experience called The Vaults located at the Old School House building in St John's Lane ,Thomas Street in the Liberties.

The company applied to the Failte Ireland the National Tourism Development Authority to have ' The Vaults' project included the Grant Scheme for Large Tourism Projects 2016-2020.

The Vaults proposal involves an interactive actor led experience using theatrical sets through a series of dramatic and entertaining scenes from 800 years of Irish history.

However Frontier Entertainments was informed last March that its application had been refused.

This was because the proposal did not obtain a passing score of 55 points out of a total of 60. The Vaults obtained 52 points.

Frontier Entertainment Ltd claims the refusal is flawed and in High Court proceedings against Failte Ireland seeks to have the refusal quashed.

High Court challenge over tourism project grant

Frontier says the decision should be quashed on grounds including that the decision breached its legitimate expectations, breaches fair procedures, is irrational, and that irrelevant considerations were taken into account.

It also seeks a declaration that Frontier Entertainment is entitled to have its application for grand aid to be reconsidered.

Counsel told the High Court that one of the reasons the challenge has been brought is because when assessing the scores of the various applicants Failte Ireland had applied a bias/negative weighting for projects situated in Dublin.

This was done by calculating a project's average annual revenue for a period of ten years and expressing that revenue as a proportion of the tourist revenue of the locality where the project was located.

This meant Dublin based applicants were severely disadvantaged as their ten year revenue would only represent a small proportion of the overall tourist revenue for Dublin City, counsel said.

Nowhere in the grant scheme's application guidelines does it state that projects located outside of Dublin in weaker tourist locations would be favoured over Dublin based projects.

The decision to apply a bias/negative weighting in respect of Dublin based projects was taken after the deadline had passed and was not communicated in advance to applicants, counsel said.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan.

The case will come back before the court in July.


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