Deal on State’s €12m funds for event centre set to expire

A licensing agreement on the €12m Government funding pledged to the stalled Cork event centre expires next year, it has emerged.

Any revised funding deal for the venue, which has seen costs soar from €50m to at least €75m, and which is seeking another €10m in State funding, will require a new agreement.

It prompted calls last night for all involved to get a move on, amid fears the funding could be at risk.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said this “significant new twist” underlines the urgent need to start work.

“Everyone is saying they’re committed to the project but it seems to me that there are still major barriers to be overcome,” he said.

BAM boss Theo Cullinane, whose firm won the tender in 2014 for €20m in State aid — €12m from the Government and €8m from Cork City council — insisted his firm and the venue’s operators, Live Nation, are still 100% committed to the project. However, he said meeting timelines announced in February — including hopes that building work would start before the end of this year — will be tight.

Mr McGrath asked Arts Minister Heather Humphreys if there is a time-limit within which the €12m Government portion must be drawn down. She said the allocation is managed under a service level agreement (SLA) with the city council, signed in December 2015. She said the agreement was for four years, and that any revised funding agreement would require a revised SLA.

It emerged on Wednesday that there is still no final agreement on the funding, three months after it was claimed that a funding deal had been agreed in principle.

BAM said it plans to forfeit one proposed office block on the former Beamish and Crawford site to facilitate a bigger events centre.

It could be another six to eight weeks before a revised planning application is ready for submission.


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