Wednesday 16 October 2019

More funding needed to bridge Briery Gap shortfall

More than €1m still needed to cover cost of refurbishment

Bill Browne

The Government has been urged to stump up the cash needed to bridge the estimated more than €1million shortfall in funding for the refurbishment of the Briery Gap Cultural Centre in Macroom.

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan this week announced that her department has allocated additional funding of €350,000 towards the cost of refurbishing the centre, which suffered severe internal damage following a fire back in 2016. 

The money brings the total amount of government funding allocated to the restoration of the landmark building to €600,000, following the announcement in 2017 that €250,000 was being set aside for the project under arts and capital culture scheme. 

Cork County Council has pledged a further €1million, with an additional figure of approximately €1.3 million set to come from insurance, bringing the total amount set aside to just under €3 million. 

While the allocation of the latest funding has been welcomed by Cork North West TD Aindrias Moynihan, he said it still meant that more than €1 million was needed to be found to cover the estimated €4.2 cost of the entire restoration 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 thrown in the works after it subsequently emerged that the cost of the project had spiralled to more than €4 million. 

More than two years later work has yet to commence on the redevelopment due to the lack of sufficient funding, prompting Deputy Moynihan to call on the Government to allocate additional monies to the project.

"Since the fire three years ago I have repeatedly raised the issue of funding for the refurbishment of the Briery Gap in the Dáil. While the additional funding announced this week is positive, there is still a major shortfall that needs to be addressed," said Deputy Moynihan. 

He said Part 8 planning permission had been granted for the restoration works and the lack of funding was a major hurdle that needed to be overcome before work could start on the project. 

"To clear the way to progress the Briery Gap that shortfall must be addressed and its essential that Rural Regeneration or similar funding be approved without delay," said Deputy Moynihan. 

"I have raised this issue with An Taoiseach, the Rural Affairs Minister and  both Arts Ministers over the past three years and will continue to rigorously pursue them for the additional funding needed to get the Briery Gap works underway once and for all," he pledged.