Council hit with €97k Titanic events bill

Cork County Council will inherit a deficit of almost €97,000 from Cobh Town Council arising from the 2012 Titanic centenary commemorations.

The money relates largely to commemorative events held in April 2012, plus associated legal expenses, including a €20,000 administration fee charged to the event organisers operating on behalf of Cobh Town council.

The deficit will pass to the county council on June 1 after the town council is abolished.

A further, unspecified sum outstanding to the town council’s legal advisers will also be transferred.

Cobh Town Council awarded the tender to manage some events to Creating Shows Ltd, which spent €381,790.

Cobh town clerk Páraig Lynch told February’s Town Council meeting that five payments of €22,687 were advanced to the company between March and September 2011 in preparatory assistance.

Legal fees associated with these advancements cost the council €20,000.

Plans that the advancements would be returned to the council through private investment floundered when the company failed to attract sufficient, third-party funding. Consequently, Cork County Council allocated €125,000. Fáilte Ireland contributed €70,000.

Eight of the events managed by Creating Shows Ltd cost under €600 but two incurred approximately €60,000 each.

A visit by President Michael D Higgins and a champagne concert and &Irish premiere screening of a Titanic television series was amongst the attractions. Almost all of the events were free. Following the commemorations, Cork County Council provided another €30,000 towards outstanding creditors on the understanding that the town council would settle remaining debts, which reached €36,790. The debts were serviced through the company’s solicitors.

The combined grant aid reached €225,000 which, when deducted from the €381,790 outlay, left a deficit of €156, 792. Two Cobh Town Council grants amounting to €60,000 reduced the final deficit to €96,790.

Cobh councillor Paddy Whitty said the cost was “cheap at the price” for the international exposure the commemorations brought and continue to bring, to the town.

Mayor John Mulvihill said the company “honoured its contract in full” and organised events “very professionally”. However, from a council perspective, he cautioned any future local administration to “be wise” if getting involved with similar undertakings.

Creating Shows could not be reached for comment.

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