Brian Cowen handcuffs the Heritage Trust
ALTHOUGH the Irish Heritage Trust (IHT) got the all clear to take over Fota House and Gardens shortly before Christmas, Brian Cowen has attached very stringent conditions. Documents seen by Goldhawk reveal that the ongoing costs associated with Fota are set to be significant but the €5m endowment fund greenlighted in the Budget will not be extended. According to a letter Cowen sent to Environment Minister John Gormley in November, he had "raised concerns" when the IHT was originally established in 2006 "regarding the likelihood of private investors getting involved in heritage projects and I am disappointed to note that the Trust has not yet identified private sector investors for the Fota House and Gardens project ...
with Indecon Consultants' unease regarding the potential increase in
Exchequer risk in the absence of private investment ... The identified
risks to any shortfall in funding must be clearly the responsibility of
the IHT and the directors of the Trust must be aware of the risks
involved. There can be no question of the Exchequer providing for any
shortfall in the funding of this project."
This is strong stuff and Trust chairman David Davies and his board - which includes the likes of Carmel Naughton, Seán Mulryan, Desmond FitzGerald, and James Osborne - are now under no illusions as totheir responsibilities. According to documents seen by Goldhawk, three "potential investors" have apparently been "identified" but there has been no confirmation to date of any private monies being made available.
It is the private funding aspect of the IHT that essentially differentiates it from the OPW (which currently operates Fota House). While the €5m endowment fund will provide approximately €200,000 per annum to cover the annual operating deficit, other funding will be required for further capital investment. The IHT's own submission notes that there are various costly projects that will need to be undertaken in Fota, including the restoration of the upper floor, which is costed at €3.5m. This is partly to accommodate some of the Woods Collection of furniture and art - some of which now looks unlikely to be donated following Richard Woods's settlement with his bankers. According to the IHT plan, "the installation of a Collection is fundamental to the project".
Worryingly for the Trust directors - given their financial responsibilities as highlighted by Brian Cowen et al - although the €5m endowment fund should cover the deficit for the first five years, after this period the Trust is set to take over the running of the substantial gardens from the OPW. This is set to increase the annual deficit from €208,000 to over €660,000 and, according to the IHT's fund managers - Davys - this latter scenario would require an endowment fund from year six of €16m!
Perhaps the IHT should have left this one with the OPW?
© The Phoenix
- New England rebel - Cork passive house with Vermont roots
- Saint Gobain launches online technical academy
- Stunning Cork passive house heads list of Isover award winners
- Historic London house gets near passive transformation
- Leicester cathedral to get passive extension
- Energywise Ireland open new renewables showroom