With the ongoing survival of the Linenhall Arts Centre a matter of serious concern following major cuts to their funding over the past few years, two motions relating to the arts centre found their way on to the agenda for the April meeting of Castlebar Town Council.
The first motion, from Sinn Féin councillor Therese Ruane, called for a delegation from the council to meet with those involved in the arts centre to explore ways of addressing its budget deficit. After some debate it was agreed to have a delegation from the centre address the members before the start of the regular monthly meeting in May.
However it was the motion of Councillor Michael Kilcoyne that led to much debate in the chamber. Cllr Kilcoyne called for the town manager to include an allocation of €40,000 in his 2013 draft budget for the Linenhall Arts Centre. Cllr Kilcoyne’s motion was seconded by Labour Party councillor Harry Barrett, despite a number of councillors pointing out that there was no way to know if they would have these funds available to allocate next year.
While Cllr Kilcoyne told the members that it was being put in the draft so that when it came before them, the councillors could see where they could find the money in the budget to give the allocation if they wanted to. Town manager Seamus Granahan told the meeting it was fine, but it had to be remembered that €40,000 would represent around a 1.5 per cent increase in the rate, while town clerk, Marie Crowley said: “Barring a miracle you won’t have €40,000 to give to the Linenhall”.
There was criticism of Cllr Kilcoyne from Fine Gael councillor Ger Deere, who said: “This is a very serious situation all around and you’re going for populist politics.