NEWS that the Killarney Gleneagle Hotel has launched a legal challenge against Cork’s long-planned event centre has been described as “extremely disappointing” by local councillors.
The Gleneagle Hotel is seeking a judicial review about the process involving the awarding of €50m government funding to the project.
The funding, announced last month, means the project will benefit from considerably more government financial support than originally planned.
Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon said he is concerned it could cost Cork City Council, and therefore the taxpayer, a significant sum of money
“I’m saying €500,000 at a small estimate,” he said, depending on how long the case goes on for.
He has called on the Gleneagle to withdraw its action, labelling it as “outrageous”.
Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill said he thought the news was a joke when he first heard.
“I thought it was a bad joke,” he told The Echo. “I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’. No one ever thought a venue in Kerry would object to it. It’s peculiar, but that’s the law in Ireland. That’s the way it is, we will just have to wait and see.”
Mr Cahill said it was a shame to see the Kerry venue object to Cork’s event centre.
“It is an awful shame, extremely disappointing. The event centre would bring massive benefits for Cork.
“It would be opening at least three nights a week, filling the car parks across Cork at night, more restaurants, more business, there is no downside.”
Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould said he was very disappointed by the news.
“It is another hurdle that will slow down the process,” said Mr Gould,
“The event centre is vital for Cork, it should have been delivered 10 years ago.”
However, he was not surprised that something like this has happened.
“It is one saga after another, there is always something. I was hoping it wouldn’t but I am not surprised it did.”
The Gleneagle Hotel is run by chief executive Patrick O’Donoghue, who is the owner and major shareholder in the Gleneagle group.
The Gleneagle CEO, a former mayor of Killarney, has been involved in a number of festivals and events in Killarney, including Ireland Bikefest, Killarney FolkFest, Killarney Beerfest, and the Gathering Traditional Festival.
Mr O’Donoghue is also the chairperson of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation.
The Gleneagle Hotel has capacity for up to 3,800 people at concerts. It hosts about 250 events a year.
Meanwhile Labour councillor John Maher has queried why no documentation apparently exists between the city council and the government on the €50m funding for the project.
A request made under the Freedom of Information Act on the issue was refused on the basis that no such documentation exists.
“It’s just ludicrous, and underpins the scepticism that people have on the delivery promises for this project,” he said.
“Let’s treat the Cork public with respect and be upfront and explain all the situation.”