LEGAL agreement on public funding for the Cork events centre will be finalised in the coming weeks with construction starting as soon as early 2019, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said.
Wednesday will mark 1,000 days since the official sod turning on the €75m project but City Hall officials and the Chief State Solicitor’s office are still locked in talks over how much in public funds can be allocated to the project without compromising the tender agreement.
High-level meetings on legal advice took place last week and another meeting is planned next week before the Department of Heritage and the Gaeltacht can be given the green light to make an application for funding to the Department of Expenditure and Reform.
Mr Coveney said he was confident we will have clarity on this project in 2018 and that we will see the start of the construction of the project in early 2019.
“This loose commentary that nothing is happening on the events centre - nothing could be further from the truth," he told the Evening Echo.
"A lot has happened. A lot of business meetings have taken place, a lot of board meetings and financial considerations have taken place and a lot of financial and legal advice has been needed and a second planning application isn’t fully through the process.
“In the meantime, an archaeological dig that has cost the guts of €500,000 has taken place and a detailed planning and cost estimate for the internals has been done.
“I have taken a lot of stick for this politically and online and local radio. I don’t mind that and I can understand the frustration but I would like people to know that this is a real project that is very complicated and has changed as time has gone on.
“Let’s not let this project be undermined by negativity that is not informed. We are close to finalising the legality of how much money we can put in and when we have that, Live Nation and BAM will be wanting to move forward fairly quickly. It will take a few more weeks.”
“A number of businesses want this and a number of hotels want to be built on the back of this, while more want to expand. It is a 6,000 events centre that will probably be full four or five nights a week. It’s going to make a huge difference to the commercial activity of the city which is why I’m so committed to it, as are City Hall.”