TEMPERS flared at this week’s Cork County Council meeting when elected members were refused a suspension of standing orders to discuss the cut in the local authority funding to the visual arts degree on Sherkin, described as ‘vital’ to the island’s future.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said what was happening ‘is a disgrace over a miserable €10,000.’
County mayor Declan Hurley said they could bring the issue up under ‘any other business’ later.
However, Cllr Carroll said he was absolutely appalled at the treatment of a delegation from Sherkin Island who had earlier attended a meeting in the nearby Kingsley Hotel to discuss the situation.
‘People came from Dublin, Galway and West Cork for this meeting and no one replied from the Council executive to attend the meeting – it’s a disgrace,’ said Cllr Carroll.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said: ‘The shortfall of €10,000 must come from the Economic Development Fund (EDF) and we owe it to them as the vibrancy of Sherkin depends on this.’ Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) also called for the money to come for the EDF Fund.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) added: ‘There’s been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and it’s absolutely foolhardy that we’re risking all the good work due to a small amount of money. I am asking Cork County Council to commit to €20,000 for this year.’
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said the way that the course had been treated was ‘a thundering disgrace’.
Cllr Danny Collins said: ‘Jobs are at risk here too – since the course started, five people have moved to the island full-time.’
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said the situation had to be sorted as soon as possible, while Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said this course should be ‘lauded instead of having funds strained.’
Declan Daly, acting chief executive, said he was ‘taken aback’ by some of the language used in the Chamber. ‘It is not our practice to ignore people. Cork County Council got involved in the course in 2015 and it was always envisaged as a temporary support and was never going to endure long term.
‘We’re not in the business of shutting anything down,’ Mr Daly added.
Mr Daly said the divisional manager in West Cork had sought income and expenditure details from the course organisers, but hadn’t received them yet. ‘We are willing to meet if the information is provided,’ he promised.
TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (FF), who attended the Kinglsey meeting, said she pleaded the case for funding to continue as agreed.
‘You can’t change the rules halfway through a game. It is the same with funding commitments,’ said the deputy.