The final obstacle in the way of Cork’s Events Centre has been overcome, as a High Court legal challenge on the project has been withdrawn.
Gleneagle Hotel (Killarney) Ltd, who also run the INEC Killarney, sought a judicial review on the most recent plans announced for the centre, including an increase in Government funding earlier this year.
However, that legal challenge has now been withdrawn, and the centre can proceed as planned.
Lord Mayor John Sheehan said that Cork City Councillors weren’t certain why the case was withdrawn as it was due to go ahead, but he said it’s good news for Cork.
“That’s the last obstacle in theory to the events centre, in the sense that it now has planning, there’s no legal challenge, the funding has been promised by the Government and they can now go ahead and sign a contract with the joint purpose vehicle that’s been set up with Live Nation (promoters) and Bam (developers) to proceed with it,” Councillor Sheehan said.
“These are very uncertain times. It’s going to be two years at least before the Events Centre is built. It may be a different environment by the time this is all over, but it is good news,” he added.
However, the Lord Mayor isn’t confident any building work will get underway of the development until 2021 at this stage.
“Realistically, because why have to do a redesigning of the internal works, and put out all the contracts, I would be very surprised to see any actual construction happening this year.
“That doesn’t mean other work won’t go ahead as regards designing, fitting out and contracting, and then you would see work actually starting in 2021,” Dr Sheehan said.
The uncertainty surrounding the economy following the Covid-19 pandemic could be another potential stumbling block also.
“Unfortunately the current economic climate is going to affect everything, and we don’t yet know the fall-out from that nationally, but also for groups like Live Nation and concert venues.
“Obviously all that has to be factored in, but it’s great to see that the obstacle from this side of things has been cleared, and that’s a positive sign.” The project was originally to receive approximately €14m in state aid but that has now risen to a total package of €50m.
The legal challenge taken by Gleneagle Hotel (Killarney) Ltd concerned the awarding of that €50m from the Government to the project, which deviated from the original terms of the tender.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described the withdrawal of the legal challenge as “welcome news”.
“I think the centre would benefit the entire region, not just Cork city and county, but it would have positive implications for the entire region in terms of tourism and hospitality,” Deputy Martin said.
“That’s going to be a sector now that will be very badly hit by Covid-19, and into the future we will need every critical piece of infrastructure we can to recover that sector and that industry.
“The Events centre would be a critical piece of infrastructure for the city and county in terms of rebooting, restarting and regenerating the hospitality and tourism sectors in particular,” he added.