Cork events centre: ‘City can’t be held to ransom by contractors’, says publican

It’s time to cough up the cash and get on with it.

Cork events centre: ‘City can’t be held to ransom by contractors’, says publican

That’s the blunt message to BAM and Live Nation from publican Benny McCabe, the owner of some of Cork’s best-known pubs and clubs, two years on from the sod turning.

“I think the event centre will happen. I am confident it will happen. It simply has to happen. But the city and the Government can’t be held to ransom by contractors anymore in relation to funding for the project,” he said.

Mr McCabe, who runs The Oval, opposite the proposed event centre site, the Mutton Lane Inn, The Vicarstown and BDSM on nearby North Main Street, as well as Sin É, The Poor Relation, The Bodega, Rising Sons, Crane Lane, and Arthur Maynes, said he noted the details of legal proceedings which emerged last week between BAM Civil Ltd and the Port of Cork over BAM’s claim that it underestimated its tender price by some €12m.

“In my business, if you agree to a tender price, you agree a price and then there are penalties if you miss deadlines or go over the price,” he said.

“It would be like me saying to a customer: ‘Come down to the Bodega for a party, and bring all your friends, and pints will be €3,’ but then telling you when you get to the door that the pints will actually be €5 or €6.”

He said that, for the sake of the additional few million euro being sought by BAM for the events centre, the firm should now just get on with construction of the venue as a goodwill gesture to the city.

Fellow publican Paul Montgomery, who runs the Reardens complex overlooking the student apartment section of the former Beamish and Crawford brewery site, was a key figure in the Support The Brewery Quarter campaign, which promoted the former brewery site as the preferred location for an event centre.

The campaign issued a press release after the sod turning on February 12, 2016, welcoming “the start of construction”.

Despite the fact that not a single brick has been laid on the venue since, Mr Montgomery said he is “100% confident” that it will be delivered, given BAM’s ongoing commitment and their level of investment in the site to date.

“The process was hit by a perfect storm of issues. But if this was going south, we’d have heard about it,” he said.

“We need to give those involved some space for the next few weeks to clinch the deal.

“There is no backing down now. This is too big to fail. I bet my bottom dollar that this will happen. I am as enthusiastic about it now as I was back then.”

Labour Party activist Peter Horgan, who has been a long-time critic of the secrecy which has shrouded the entire process, said people want and need the venue to be built — but not at any cost, or at the cost of democratic accountability.

“The stakeholders must realise it is the public’s money financing this and they deserve full and frank information on the delays from Government and from the contractors,” said Mr Horgan.

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