The on-going saga of Galway’s proposed arthouse cinema was again raised by Councillor Michael Crowe at this week’s meeting of the Galway City Council.
The council donated the site at Lower Merchants road, which was purchased at the height of the boom for €1.9 million, to Solas, the company behind the project, more than seven years ago. The development has been dogged by various delays ever since. Last year the local authority agreed to donate another €200,000 towards the facility, a figure which councillors were led to believe would be sufficient to see the cinema up and running.
Councillor Crowe who opposed giving the €200,000 bond initially, demanded answers from city officials as to why the project now seems to be completely stalled.
‘’The site has been idle and derelict for the last six months as far as I can see, there is nobody on site, there is nothing happening there. It is a cod that we are continuing to throw away tax-payers’ money on something we are seeing no return from. I want a detailed outline, for the benefit of councillors and for the people of Galway, where exactly this project is at. ‘’Councillor Niall McNelis said it was important to find out how much it would cost to complete the project.
Council CEO Brendan McGrath said he shared representatives concerns that the project be completed at the earliest possible time. ‘’It will significantly add to the arts and cultural offering in the city and will be another critical aspect of the European Capital of Culture bid. We certainly want to see a return on our substantial investment.
The project was unfortunate that the first contractors got into difficulty, a dispute arose about which High Court proceedings are now in place. However new contractors have been appointed, and phase one of the project has been completed while phase two is stalled until permission is granted from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.’’
Mr McGrath outlined that the promoters of the art house cinema were willing to go in to the council and give a full briefing on what stage the project was now at. He advocated that councillors accept this offer, which they did, and it was accepted that a full briefing would take place at the next city council meeting.