Pressure mounting over Cork event centre

Pressure is mounting on Cork’s city officials to hold a briefing from developers on the stalled €50m events centre project in public.

It follows confirmation the developers of the 6,000-seat venue on the former Beamish and Crawford brewery site are to be invited to brief councillors behind closed doors because of ongoing commercial sensitivities linked to funding elements of scheme.

Delays to construction have been blamed on work between developers BAM, and entertainment giants, Live Nation, on detailed designs of the venue to ensure it meets the exacting criteria for modern event centres.

But councillors Mick Finn and Terry Shannon said given the scale of public investment in the project — the Government has sanctioned €12m and Cork City Council has pledged €8m — any progress reports or briefings from developers should be held in public.

“I am getting quite concerned about what’s happening with the event centre, and it’s a question people on the streets are asking too,” Mr Shannon said.

“I welcome the meeting with the developers. We need some very open discussions with them. But if this meeting is going ahead, I have no objections to it being held in public.”

Mr Finn, who has called for fortnightly progress reports, backed calls for the briefing to be held in public.

Almost 14-months after the complex funding deal was agreed, Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the sod on the long-awaited events centre in February, just days before the general election.

Amid criticism it was an election stunt, assurances were given work would start on site within weeks.

But four months on, there is still no sign of construction work starting, apart from some minor demolition works.

Following questions from Mr Finn and Mr Shannon at Monday’s council meeting, officials insisted the project is going ahead, although not as quickly as they would like.

But with confirmation that up to three months of archaeological investigations will be required, concerns are mounting construction work may not even start before the end of the year.

It has also emerged that funding contracts have not yet been signed, and that the developers have sought an extension to the scheme’s five-year planning permission, granted in 2011, fuelling fears construction could be further delayed.

The council’s director of services, Pat Ledwidge, said once the designs and funding arrangements are finalised, all the documentation would be available to the public through the Freedom of Information process.

“The process is on track as far as we are concerned and we remain in communication with the various parties, including BAM and Live Nation,” he said.


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