City loses €220k for arts in council error

Niall O'Connor

DUBLIN has lost out on almost €220,000 in arts funding due to a city council blunder, the Herald can reveal.

City representatives have reacted furiously after it emerged council staff missed the deadline to draw down €218,781 from the Department of the Environment.

The "serious blunder" means thousands of euro that would have been spent on arts projects in the city has now effectively been lost.

An official council report, seen by the Herald, states that the failure to draw down the money has had a "major impact" on arts programmes in the capital.


"On February 24, information became available to the Arts Office that some percent for art funding had been withdrawn by the Department. It was subsequently established that €218,781 was withdrawn.

"This has had a major impact on the roll out of commissions in strand 1, 2 and 3 of the Dublin City Public Art Programme, particularly impacting on the process to proceed with seven commissions selected under strand 2 of the programme," the report states.

The large sum represents over a third of the overall funding available -- with the council having already inviting grant submissions from artists and cultural groups.

The Herald understands that the slip-up stemmed from a "communications break-down" between two council sections.

The council has refused to be drawn on the blunder -- but confirmed it was being negotiated with department officials.

"Dublin City Council is in discussions with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in relation to this matter," a spokesman said.

The issue has prompted strong criticism from city representatives who say those in the area of arts will badly lose out.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn described the blunder as an "absolute scandal".

"I am demanding the city manager investigates this fully and provides the city with a full explanation. It is outrageous that this could happen in a local authority -- it displays a blatant level of incompetency," he said.

"This money would have created work. It would have gone to some extremely needy groups. Effectively, it is the communities and the city that have lost out because of this absolute scandal," he added.

Chairperson of the Arts Strategic Policy Committee, Julia Carmichael said it was "disgraceful".