An admission by the Taoiseach that a pre-election sod turning on the Cork event centre was a "mistake" has been dismissed by Fianna Fáil who argue that communities are waiting for the facility.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney has repeatedly defended the 2016 pre-election ceremony for the centre and has again reiterated that the government is committed to getting the 6,000-capacity centre open.
His was speaking after this paper revealed that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted the sod turning was a “mistake” and after Mr Coveney's self-imposed government Easter target for progress on the facility passed without result.
The whole project has become mired in controversy, most recently over a €9m loan element of its €30m state aid package, which forms part of the €79m cost for the new facility.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin rounded on the Fine Gael-led government for another missed deadline and the continued failure to get the project across the line.
“Leo Varadkar now says that 2016 pre-election sod-turning ceremony for the Cork Events Centre was ‘a mistake’. In what sense? A ‘mistake’ suggests those involved didn’t know what they were doing. It’s very clear that FG knew 100% what they were at that day. And still Cork waits,” tweeted Mr Martin.
Leo Varadkar now says that 2016 pre election sod turning ceremony for Cork Events Centre was ‘a mistake’. In what sense? A ‘mistake’ suggests those involved didn’t know what they were doing. It’s very clear that FG knew 100% what they were at that day. And still Cork waits...— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) April 23, 2019
As reported by this paper, Mr Varadkar said one of his rules now is not to turn the sod on anything unless he knows all contracts are signed and there are no problems.
His predecessor, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny had turned the sod on the project in February 2016, eight weeks before the general election.
But Mr Coveney has again stood over the delivery of the project.
“I know people are frustrated with the time the event centre is taking but, like the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste is determined to get it done and is putting huge personal time and effort into delivering the project," a spokesperson for said.
Some local politicians have now said that a funding decision on the stalled project by city council should be delayed until its new members are voted in after the May 24 local elections.