Wednesday 23 October 2019

Further financial woes for the burnt Briery

Maria Herlihy

It may be some time before the burnt down Briery Gap will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes as it has now emerged that Government funding will be pumped into the stalled City based Cork Events centre.

Last month councillors had to deal with the "flabbergasting" shock that it would cost a staggering €4 million to re-build the Briery Gap. At the Blarney Macroom municipal district meeting this month, councillors were dealt another whammy on being told that without proper grant-aid, Cork County Council would only be able to reinstate the library at the gutted building but not the theatre.

While Cork County Council will give €1 million towards the work and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will give €250,000.

The insurance company are prepared to give €1.1 million but the council had hoped for €1.5 million.

When the figures were worked out, it will still mean there is a mammoth shortfall of more than  €1.5 million.

Tom Molloy, Senior Executive Officer told the meeting that the scenario was "not very positive at the minute."  Cllr Bob Ryan (FF) angrily pointed out that the "non event Cork Events Centre" has not reached any conclusion despite the spin."

He also said County Hall pumping money into it instead of the Briery Gap "cannot be tolerated."

Chairing the meeting, Cllr Kevin Conway (Ind) said they will be "making lots of noise" about this recent revelation.

Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) said: "The council can provide €1 million from its own funds but yet the Department of Culture will only give €250,000. That is disgraceful. This is appalling - what has the Events Centre got to do with the Briery Gap?,"

She said that Macroom was losing out despite the Board of the Briery gap doing the very best that they could without an actual building.

Cllr Michael Creed (FG) said he still could not get his head around the €4 million price tag to re-do the building. At the previous meeting, Mr Molloy had explained that the original bill had rocketed from €2.5 million to €4 million due to the new building regulations which the old building was previously exempt from.

"I am just flabbergasted at it costing €4 million. Money should not go to  Cork Events Centre, but still €250,000 is a lot of money from the Department of Culture. We need to get the Briery Gap back," he said.

Cllr Creed said the Briery Gap first started from £10,000 that was won on the Late Late Show many years ago - but the building now has a price tag of €4 million.

Cllr Ted Lucey (FG) was of the view that Cork County Council "own the building" and councillors were not going to take no for an answer.  Mr Molloy also pointed out that if they just put back the library there would be an "empty shell" above them which would still cost money to maintain.

Cllr Lucey suggested they liaise with local Minister Michael Creed on the matter.

Mr Molloy also confirmed that they were looking at EU projects in the hope of attaining funding.

"Even if we meet the criteria there could be some partial funding. We are looking into energy efficiency funding and all money adds up at the end of the day."