Answers sought on income from Galway Airport concerts
From this week's Galway City Tribune
Author: Stephen Corrigan
~ 3 minutes read
From this week's Galway City Tribune
City councillors have expressed surprise that no income from up to ten concerts at the former Galway Airport was included in their annual budget.
The concerts are set to take place over ten dates next August, with up to 50,000 in attendance at the facility which the City and County Councils jointly own.
Their staging has been a source of tension between the two local authorities and councillors have been exchanging blows in recent weeks over the potential impact of the gigs on Galway International Arts Festival.
But neither side has been able to get a figure for how much the promoters behind the gigs are being charged for use of the site, despite tickets for eight of the concerts already being on sale.
At the City Council annual budget meeting last week, Cllr John Connolly (FF) said he had expected a figure to be included as part of their income for 2024.
“Are we giving it out for nothing?” he asked.
Declining to give an exact figure, Director of Services for Economic Development, Elizabeth Fanning, said that “whatever income is generated will be offset against maintenance costs”.
After further probing, she confirmed that the City and County Councils spend about €50,000 annually – €25,000 each – on the maintenance of the former airport at Carnmore.
“The costs include waste collection, Rentokil, and there was damage to a door that had to be repaired.
“On the income for the airport [to host ten concerts], it is still unknown. I believe the County Council is still negotiating with MCD,” said Ms Fanning.
Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) raised concerns that a motion passed by city councillors which sought to limit the number of concerts to six appeared to count for nothing. County councillors later passed a motion supporting “no limit” on the number of gigs.
He said a newspaper report, which was carried in last week’s Galway City Tribune, revealed that the Director of Services in the County Council, Liam Hanrahan, suggested that “no matter what motion we pass or they pass, that won’t affect the decision”.
Mr Hanrahan told the November Plenary Meeting of the County Council that the number of concerts at the airport “will not be decided by motions”, adding that it would be discussed and agreed at the Corporate Policy Group (CPG) level of both local authorities.
Cllr McDonnell said this was “another erosion of our powers”.
Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said the same report in the Tribune had set out that the County Council had held meetings with the promoter, the HSE and Gardaí to discuss the proposed concerts and while an invitation to attend those meetings was extended to the City Council Executive, “they did not attend”.
“Why did nobody attend?” asked Cllr Cheevers.
Ms Fanning said this was the first in a series of meetings and the City Executive would attend future meetings.
“The first meeting that happened was planning related – that didn’t affect us because we are not the planning authority,” she said, as the airport is within the County Council’s jurisdiction.
“We will be attending a meeting in January,” added Ms Fanning.
Meanwhile, Director of Services for Infrastructure Development and Planning in City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said the airport had come up for discussion at a Joint Strategic Policy Committee Planning meeting involving both local authorities on Friday last.
“There was a level of debate between members of the City and County Council.
“It was agreed to bring the discussion back to the Joint Corporate Policy Group meetings to discuss the general use of the airport in the future,” he said.
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