‘THIS is worse than embarrassing – it is insulting to us and the people of Skibbereen,’ said Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) when he was told that the Town Hall in Skibbereen is still not ready.
Since the beginning of the year, and the relaxation of Covid restrictions, both Cllr Carroll and Cllr Karen Coakley (Ind) have been asking Council officials on a monthly basis for a competition date.
But a senior executive officer said they have to wait for the contractor to sign off on the work that was carried out to the Town Hall before they can allow access to the public building.
‘We have been looking at it for years,’ said Cllr Carroll, who complained that Covid wasn’t the only reason that the local theatre group and community couldn’t use it.
‘Most of the works are completed,’ MacDara O h-Icí reported but we are waiting for a few final sign offs on it.’
‘We haven’t a date for it yet,’ he added, ‘because it is a public building, we need certain sign-offs before we can open it.’
The executive officer said the Council was also ‘getting a procedure for bookings’ and hopefully that and the completion date will be announced soon.
He said the Council had been talking to the contractor ‘on an ongoing basis’ and as soon as he had a date, he would come back to the members. ‘It’s just final certification is what we need.’
Cllr Carroll became very angry and said some Council officials are living in Clonakilty and don’t have to listen to what is being said in Skibbereen.
‘I am living here in Skibbereen, as is Karen Coakley,’ he said, ‘and this is worse than embarrassing, it is insulting to us and the people of Skibbereen – it has gone way beyond a joke.’
‘What’s going on?’ he asked. ‘It’s not Carnegie Hall.’
Cllr Carroll said the situation is ‘an absolute disgrace’ and he told the administration staff, in angry terms, that he will ‘not accept the same answer at their next meeting.’
Local businessman and Skibbereen Theatre Society member, Kevin Cadogan, has spoken to The Southern Star about the total lack of access to the Town Hall for the last three years.
He complained that the drama group had to rehearse their award-winning play Brighton in inappropriate places in Skibbereen, before staging it out of town in venues in Ballydehob and Baltimore.
He said it is unfair on the drama group members and the community who want access to the facility, especially older members of the community who don’t drive.
Kevin maintained that the three-year delay is ‘a slight on the arts in our community – they are not deemed a priority or as important as sport.
‘After our last performance in Baltimore,’ he added, ‘a woman wrote to me with a €100 cheque for the society enclosed. She said she appreciated the effort and energy that we put into the production and that she knew it was struggle for us to take the production out of town.
‘We had the cast, we had the crew, we had the set, but the fact that we couldn’t stage what was a successful production in our own town caused considerable frustration locally,’ he said.
Kevin confirmed to The Southern Star that the group has had to make ‘the very difficult decision’ to cease all productions until the Town Hall is ready.