Tuesday 16 July 2019

Concern raised in Dáil over €1.5 million Briery Gap funding shortfall

Smoke billowing from the front of the Briery Gap building during the blaze in May, 2016
Smoke billowing from the front of the Briery Gap building during the blaze in May, 2016

Bill Browne

Fears have been expressed that the proposed redevelopment of the Briery Gap Cultural Centre in Macroom could be even further delayed due to an impasse over a €1.5 million funding shortfall for the project.

In August of 2017 hopes were high that the centre, which was closed following a devastating blaze a year earlier, would rise phoenix-like from the ashes of disaster after Cork County Council confirmed it had issued a tender for the appointment of a specialist team to undertake the redesign and refurbishment of the landmark building. 

At the time, senior Council engineer Jim Molloy told The Corkman the authority had hoped to award the contract by the end of October and that all going to plan, the centre would re-open by the end of this year Mr Molloy said the entire design and refurbishment process would cost in the region of €2.5 million to complete. 

However, a major spanner was subsequently thrown in the works after it emerged that the cost of the project had spiralled to €4 million. 

Almost two years later work has yet to commence on the redevelopment project due to the lack of sufficient funding ring-fenced for the project, prompting, Cork North West TD Aindrias Moynihan (FF) to raise the subject on the floor of Dáil Eireann. 

He asked Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht Joespha Madigan to outline what engagement her department had with Cork County Council regarding the repairs to he building and the shortfall in funding for the project. 

In reply Minister Madigan pointed out that her department had already offered to pay €250,000 towards the cost of the project. 

Minister Madigan said that as the council's proposal was "significantly more ambitious than the available finance" there may be other avenues open to the authority to close the funding gap. 

She said that while there had been engagement between her department and the council about "the challenge presented by the funding gap", the matter remained "under examination" and the council was continuing to explore options to restore the facility. 

Deputy Moynihan said that while funding for insurance and funding from Cork County Council for the restoration project had been secured, Minister Madigan's department had pledged just 6% of its overall cost. 

He pointed out that under the terms of the new Capital Arts Scheme funding of up to just €100,000 was provided for individual projects, a sum he said "clearly falls short of what is needed for the redevelopment of the Briery Gap." 

"As I pointed out to the Minister, providing €1.5 million in funding will result in a facility worth €4 million, in the area," said Deputy Moynihan.

"It is up to every local representative to use whatever influence they have to bring about the restoration of Briery Gap. I have given this matter my full support since the fire in 2016, and I call on those in positions of influence to do the same," he concluded.