THE Department of Public Expenditure has confirmed that it has yet to receive an official request for extra funding for Cork’s events centre, almost eight months after it emerged that more than €12 million would be needed.
Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the sod on the event centre project 19 months ago, earmarked for the former Beamish and Crawford site, but the project has been stalled ever since.
In February, Cork City Council was told by developers, BAM, that the cost of the project had grown and more public funding would be needed in addition to the €12 million committed by central government and the €8 million committed by the council itself in 2014.
The developers told city councillors the overall costs had risen from €53m to €65m following a “protracted internal redesign process” which saw the venue’s footprint increase from around 10,000 sq/m to 13,500 sq/m.
A further €6m contingency was also being sought.
In a written response to a parliamentary question by Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South Central Michael McGrath, Finance and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe said that requests for additional state funding would come through the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and that his Department has yet to receive anything.
Culture Minister Heather Humphries confirmed that her Department is engaging with Cork City Council, which was asked for updated legal advice over the summer. This is expected to be completed in the coming days. The Culture Department will then be able to pass the request on to the Public Expenditure Department However, Mr McGrath said it is difficult to be optimistic about the project starting soon.
"Ultimately, the Department of Public Expenditure has to sign off on a request for additional public funds for this project and the request isn't even on the Minister’s desk yet," he said.
He said that the project is important and he would back additional funding if a proper case is made for it but said "it's not even at that point yet."
"You still get the lingering sense that we are not getting the whole of this story," he added.
Cork City Council said that the details needed will be finalised within the next week, allowing the request to move forward.