24.07.07 - Council’s €8.25 Million Giveaway to Private Developer in Secret Deal
Sinn Féin Councillor, Jonathan O’Brien, has slammed the decision at last night’s Cork City Council meeting to give €8.25million to a private developer to build a conference centre in the Docklands area. The debate on the issue took place behind closed doors with the press and public excluded. During the debate it was argued that this was the one way in which Cork would be able to obtain a world class conference. However Sinn Féin and four other Councillors (one Green, one Socialist, one Labour and one Fianna Fáil) voted against the motion.

“We in Sinn Féin are 100 % behind the concept of a conference Centre for Cork. It makes sense in terms of providing for the recreational and social needs of the community and promoting tourism. However what we object to is the concept of a private development subsidised by the people of Cork but over which the people of Cork will have no control. It is basically another give away of scarce public funds to rich property developers. City Council should not be a cash cow for private developers.”

“Despite the millions being handed over to the private development the City Council will have no say in managing this development and no say in how any profits will be spent. This is nothing short of a scandal.”

 “The fact that the debate took place in secret and the elected City councillors were not given the opportunity to question the deal in public is nothing short of a disgrace. It raises once again the issue of lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to planning decisions in the City.”

 Background In 1998 Cork city Council presented O’Callaghan Properties with public land at a subsidised rate in Mahon on the understanding that a Conference Centre would be built there for the City as part of that development. This did not materialise and instead the council accepted compensation of €6 million from O’Callaghan Properties. More recently the Council agreed to invite tenders from private developers to build a Conference Centre in Cork City Centre. The tender accepted by the Council last night was that submitted by Howard Holdings for a combined development in the Docklands area.

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