A coalition of business leaders, hoteliers, publicans and restaurateurs in Cork say their focus remains on doing everything possible to ensure the delivery of the Cork event centre as it faces yet about obstacle.
The group, which includes the Cork Business Association (CBA), the Cork branches of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), the Restaurants Association Ireland (RAI) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), described the proposed 6,000-capacity venue, which is facing a legal challenge over the proposed €50m state funding package, as an essential and long overdue investment in the city.
The group, which led calls this time last year for the stalled project to be delivered, issued a statement in response to the High Court legal challenge lodged by the Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney, the operators of the INEC, against the state funding package.
“We are aware a new legal challenge has been lodged relating to the state’s funding package for the Cork events centre,” the group said.
“Full details of this challenge are currently unavailable.
“It is our collective view that the Cork events centre will provide a much-needed boost to our local economy.
“It is an essential and long-overdue investment in Cork’s business and tourism infrastructure.
“We look forward to the development getting underway without further delay so that local businesses can follow through with their investment plans and support the further development of our city as a vibrant and attractive visitor destination.
“Our focus remains on ensuring the development proceeds and that the Cork events centre is delivered for the people of Cork and the region.”
It will be four years next Wednesday since former Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the sod on the project just weeks before the last general election.
The business group raised concerns in February 2018 last about the chronic delays which have blighted the project and prevented the start of construction.
They said “growth in the city” was being impeded as the city waited for answers on the project’s status, and they issued warnings.
“There will be a detrimental impact on several industries and the local economy if there is further stalling of the process,” they said at the time.
“Hoteliers, publicans, restaurateurs and businesses are investing heavily in the region because of the potential that the city holds. But return on that investment very much depends on the event centre coming to fruition.”
While a planning decision from An Bórd Pleanála on the enlarged venue is awaited, it was hoped that the announcement last month of the €50m state funding package was the last major hurdle to clear.
But the emergence of the new legal challenge has raised fears of further delays.
Meanwhile, Visit Cork, the official tourism body for the Cork region, is hosting an industry briefing session for those involved in the tourism industry next Wednesday.
Anyone with an interest in tourism or in attracting visitors to Cork city or country is invited to attend the event for an update on Visit Cork’s plans for the promotion of the city and county for leisure tourism, through Pure Cork, and business tourism, through the Cork Convention Bureau.
Seamus Heaney, the head of Visit Cork, encouraged everyone involved in the tourism industry to attend.
“We hope they will explore how they can work with Pure Cork and Cork Convention Bureau to enhance their business and help collectively promote all that Cork has to offer to domestic and international business and leisure visitors,” he said.
The industry day at Radisson Blu Hotel in Little Island takes place from 10am to 1.30pm next Wednesday, with registration from 9.30am.