The Galway City Council has rejected the request from Galway 2020 for an additional €2.5 million in public funding for the European Capital of Culture programme.
At the council’s ordinary meeting at City Hall, councillors voted 11 in five in favour of a motion to block the funding which was to be used for a more extensive programme of events in the city.
In a statement responding to the council’s decision a spokesperson for Galway 2020 said; “This additional support from Galway City Council would have facilitated the development of a more extensive programme across the city, as we have done across the county with additional funds from Galway County Council. While the outcome is not what we had hoped it would be, we are committed to delivering our programme.”
Galway 2020 CEO Patricia Philbin added; “We are disappointed by the outcome of today’s meeting - but as this weekend has proved Galway 2020 is a very resilient project.”
However, many councillors stated that they were unhappy with details which were provided, and argued there were more important public infrastructure needs for the city where the funding could be spent.
Independent councillor Colette Connolly said she was “sick, sore, and tired” of councillors being labelled “negative” when they question how public money is spent and put forward the motion to stop the funding being approved.
Fianna Fáil councillor Alan Cheevers described the handling of the designation as a “car crash” with Galway city west councillor Pauline O’Reilly saying the programme was “touring sour” for everyone involved.
The decision by the Galway City Council is the latest blow to the project which saw its official launch event in South Park in the city cancelled due to Storm Ciara.
To date the local authority has committed €6 million to Galway 2020.
The ceremonial presentation of the plaque to Galway to mark its designation as European Capital of Culture took place on Saturday when the city was officially inaugurated by EU Commissioner Phil Hogan.
The event included words by legendary sports broadcaster, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, The Mayor of Galway city and Cathaorleach Galway County, Galway 2020’s CEO Patricia Philbin, Chair Arthur Lappin and Creative Director Helen Marriage. Guests also heard a video message from European Commission for Culture, Gabriel Mariva
There were performances from Máirtín O’Connor, BackWest as well as a special reading of Moya Cannon’s commissioned poem, Imbolc read by Glenamaddy student, Luke Dolan.
Galway’s fellow 2020 European Capital of Culture, Rijeka were in attendance and provided a special performance by the Hallubian Bell Ringers