Sky Garden council to spend €50k on another garden project

THE local authority overseeing the controversial Irish Sky Garden is under fire again over plans to spend €50,000 on another garden.

Cork city councillors will receive a report next Monday which outlines plans to contribute €50,000 towards the development of a Chinese garden and cultural building, in association with University College Cork and its Confucius Institute.

Lord Mayor Cllr Terry Shannon, who leads a high-powered delegation to China over the next week, will meet potential partners during the visit to discuss the project.

It is hoped the proposal will secure larger funding from the Irish and Chinese governments.

But Cllr Chris O’Leary (SF) slated the council’s decision to back the project financially at a time when City Hall faces a €6.5m cut in its 2012 budget.

“I can’t stand over this spending at a time when people in my (electoral) ward are writing to me, pleading for vital housing repairs,” he said.

The report, presented to the council’s planning and development strategic policy committee last night, details several projects being funded under the council’s Economic Development Fund.

The fund, established last year, ringfenced 1% of the city’s commercial rates to promote economic development in the city.

The report reveals that:

* €160,000 is being spent on the Cork Docklands Economic Proposition Report, which the Government is co-funding.

* €40,000 is being spent on the promotion of Cork in Asia.

* €17,500 is being spent on a report setting the business case for a Tier 1 Telecoms Interconnector.

* €12,500 has been spent on the CORKMEET business network initiative.

On the plans to contribute €50,000 towards the Chinese garden and cultural building in 2012, the report states: “[The project] will provide a building to house the activities of the Confucius Institute in the setting of a Chinese garden.

“The project will be accessible to the citizens of Cork. It is being conceived as a China-Ireland co-operation project.”

The Confucius Institute, which was established at UCC in 2006, provides Chinese language and culture programmes.

Pat Ledwidge, the director of the council’s docklands directorate, said the project is at a very early stage of planning.

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