The Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said he is “confident” that Cork City Council will be able to defend the legal process concerning Cork’s proposed events centre, and that the project will go ahead.
Mr Coveney made the comments when asked about the future of the centre, given that a notice of motion was submitted by Gleneagle Hotel (Killarney) Ltd earlier this week seeking a judicial review of the case.
He said that the event centre “has been treated in the right way throughout the entire process” by both the Government and Cork City Council.
Despite this, he believes that the decision to award the €50m to the project - thus leaving the process open to legal challenge - was the right one. He’s also confident the State will get its money back in the form of knock-on commercial activity across the city in a short number of years.
Mr Coveney also told The Echo that he believes the project will also get the green light from An Bord Pleanala, who are due to make a decision on the case by March 19.
Asked about promises in the lead up to elections, given that the sod was turned on the events centre in the lead up to the 2016 election, the Tánaiste said that the project that’s due to move forward now is “very different” to the one originally signed off on.
“It hasn’t been the Government changing the goalposts, it’s been the developer, and the company that’s going to operate and own the event centre in Live Nation” whom he went on to say was right to demand a change in design for the betterment of the facility.
“The State has been asked to do more, to change approach, to work with the companies concerned, and at each stage, I’ve had to find a way - along with senior management in Cork City Council and in Government - to make that happen, and I’ve done that.
“What would have been really easy for me, three years ago, would be to simply blame Bam or blame somebody else and bin this project and nobody would be talking about it now, but I haven’t done that,” the Tánaiste added.
He went on to say that the events centre is not his “personal project” but he has “been the politician that has found solutions, both financially, and from a legal process perspective to each problem” that arose.
“The reason why I have not allowed this project to die, and I won’t allow it to die, is because I know how valuable this is to Cork city and I am passionate about our city, its future, its people and the need for this kind of infrastructure,” he said.