Government urged to make up €1.5m shortfall in Briery Gap funding

Cost of refurbishment works at the Macroom centre has shot up to €4 million

Smoke billowing from the front of the Briery Gap during the 2016 blaze
Smoke billowing from the front of the Briery Gap during the 2016 blaze

Pressure is being brought to bear on Government to make up the shortfall in cash needed to reopen the fire damaged Briery Gap Cultural Centre in Macroom.

Last August hopes were high that the centre, which has been closed following the fire in June 2016,would rise phoenix like from the ashes of disaster after Cork County Council confirmed it had issued a tender for the appointment of a specialists 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 2019. 

Mr Molloy said the entire design and refurbishment process would cost in the region of €2.5 million to complete. 

However, as highlighted in The Corkman two weeks ago, a major spanner has been thrown in the works after it emerged that the cost of the project had spiralled to €4 million. 

Mr Molloy told a meeting of the Blarney municipal district committee that an insurance payout would only cover the cost of putting the building back to its original condition. 

He told councillors that new EU building safety regulations would require additional works and upgrades to be undertaken to the building, substantially pushing up the overall cost of the project. 

Mr Molloy said that were the building put back to its original condition, it could no longer be used as a theatre and that the council was actively investigating potential EU funding streams in order to make up the €1.5 million shortfall. 

Speaking this week local Fianna Fail TD Aindrias Moynihan echoed the frustrations expressed by county councillors at the meeting and urged “all those with influence” to ensure the necessary funding was found to re-open the venue. 

“Its closure came as a heavy blow to the Macroom area, which lost both its cinema and theatre as a result of the fire. The local community has a rich arts and cultural heritage and while certain activities can take place at other venues, the soul of the local arts community was at the Briery Gap,” he said. 

While Deputy Moynihan conceded €1.5 million shortfall was a “sizeable sum”, he insisted the Government had the capacity to make it up. 

He pointed out that not only had the town lost its cultural hub, it was also missing out on the revenue generated for the local economy through events at the Briery Gap. 

“The former Minister for Arts, Heather Humphreys, visited the Briery Gap not long after the fire and committed the funding for repairs to take place,” said Deputy Moynihan.

“I am now calling on the new Minister, Josepha Madigan, to commit to funding the €1.5 million shortfall so the centre can reopen as soon as possible,” said Deputy Moynihan.