Varadkar asks about progress on 2020 plans

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar...reasons to be cheerful.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has met with the Galway 2020 committee to “see for himself the progress to date in preparing for Galway 2020”.

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan confirmed the Government’s commitment to provide €15 million in funding for the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) project.

However, there have been rumblings among councillors that less than two years out from the event, little progress has been made in terms of securing its €46m budget needed to deliver the year-long programme.

Announcing the visit by her party leader, Fine Gael Deputy Hildegarde Naughton said Galway 2020 has the full support of Government.

“The Taoiseach decided to meet with the event organisers in Galway to see for himself the progress to date in preparing for Galway 2020 and offer his support.”

The €15m grant from the Government will be the largest single contribution to the overall cost of the project.

The Government is likely to keep a close eye on the project following the last big arts project in the city. A private company is now running the Pálás arthouse cinema in the Spanish Arch paying a rent of €1 for the first 25 years of the lease – even though it was built with €8.4m of taxpayers’ money.

The balance of the funding for ECOC is to be sourced from city and county local authorities (€6m each), the Melina Mercouri prize of €1.5 million from the European Commission and corporate sponsorship.

The local business community committed to increased commercial rates for three years to support the delivery of Galway 2020 – which forms part of the City Council’s contribution.

“The European capital of culture is not a festival. It is an entire year of activity which will be transformative for Galway and region. It will have a long-lasting impact on the lives of our citizens, as well as increasing tourism to the city and region,” Deputy Naughton noted.

“Its benefit will be felt for very many years, as it will leave a legacy in the form of improvements to infrastructure, increases in visitor numbers, and invaluable enhancement to our international reputation as a place to visit, invest, work and live,” said Deputy Naughton.