Council meeting on events centre ruled out despite councillors’

An emergency council meeting on the Cork event centre saga has been ruled out, despite mounting criticism from independent councillors, furious about being kept in the dark on the tender process.

Deputy Lord Mayor Ken O’Flynn, a Fianna Fáil councillor, hit back at the criticisms yesterday and rejected calls for an emergency meeting to discuss the launch of a second tender.

“The lord mayor’s office will not be calling such a meeting,” he said.

“The party whips and party leaders have been fully briefed on the latest stage of the tendering process, and they have communicated that to their members.

“It’s not the fault of the lord mayor’s office or city officials that independent councillors can’t get their house in order.

“There is no point in having a post mortem on a process until the process has been complete.”

On Monday, Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy launched a furious attack on how the event centre tender process had been handled.

The first process collapsed following the withdrawal of entertainment giant, Live Nation, which had been working with the two developers — Owen O’Callaghan and Heineken/BAM — who are vying with each other for a multi-million kickstart fund.

O’Callaghan has planning permission for an events centre on Albert Quay. Heineken/BAM has planning for a venue on the former Beamish and Crawford site on South Main St.

Following weeks of uncertainty after the first process collapsed, City Hall announced a revised tender process last Friday, and invited interest parties to submit new tenders.

O’Callaghan and Heineken/BAM are expected to re-engage in the process which no longer requires bidders to have an operator such as Live Nation on board at this stage.

However, Mr McCarthy branded it a “disgrace” that councillors had been left completely out of the loop on a decision to commit €4m of city council money to the Government’s already pledged €10m kickstart fund.

“Up to now, tentative figures have been bounced around but nothing set in stone,” he said. “But now on the new tender document a figure is set. No-one has approached the elected members of council to tell us this in person.

“I have had to read it in the press. As an elected member, this is a disgrace.”

Independent councillor Mick Finn also criticised how the process was handled, describing the continuing uncertainty as “farcical” and “concerning”.

“The way this has been handled by some senior officials and a so-called expert group has been appalling and is symptomatic of the bureaucracy which clogs up the operations of council,” he said.

Councillors had to read details of the new tendering process in the press, and are operating in a “vacuum of silence”, he said.

“For the new process to be posted on a website, without a briefing for members, was effectively two fingers to us,” said Mr Finn. “This is not good enough and highlights the need for the powers between management and council to be balanced more in favour again of elected members.”

Mr O’Flynn said he is confident the new process will deliver for the city and region.

It is hoped the preferred tender and chosen site will be announced in November or December.


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