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Legal row erupts over Cork events centre deal

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A legal row has erupted over the awarding of the contract to build the multi-million-euro Cork event centre.

The owners of the Irish National Event Centre in Killarney, Co Kerry, have gone to court seeking orders to suspend the decision of Cork City Council to award the contract for what would be the rival Cork centre to BAM Contractors Ltd. They also want an order declaring the decision of the council was unlawful.

Central to the case is the €50m in public funds to be ploughed into the project.

Cork City Council rejects all the allegations.

Mr Justice David Barniville yesterday admitted the case to the Commercial Court.

Gleneagle Hotel (Killarney)Ltd owns and operates the Irish National Event Centre.

Gleneagle wants an order setting aside or permanently suspending the decision to award the contract to BAM.

It also seeks a declaration that the council's decision to award the contract was unlawful and if necessary, it requires an order directing the council to re-advertise the contract.

It further seeks a declaration the council has acted contrary to general principles of European law. In a statement to the court, Gleneagle said for a number of years, the council had been considering the construction of an event centre in Cork city. The council, it said, knew or ought to have known such an event centre would compete with its own centre.

Gleneagle said it would have been entitled to take part in the tender procedure as published by the council in 2014 but based on the financial conditions published at the time, it did not take part.

Gleneagle further claims it is likely to incur damage from the operation of a rival event centre, which it claims is subsidised out of public funds.

The estimated €85m cost of the project, it says, is more than twice the maximum amount initially estimated.

The non-repayable contribution from public funds has more than tripled to €50m, it also says. Gleneagle claims the possibility of the increasing public funds was not made known to it in 2014.

The case will come back before the court in May.

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