Cllr. Sean McEniff asked that Tuesday’s meeting of Bundoran Town Council to discuss the grant application that is with Failte Ireland to set up a Sea Life Centre in the town.
He said: “We have a public/private partnership in place for this, the promoters from Dingle are prepared to invest millions. They guarantee 100,000 visitors each year and they will operate it 364 days per year. I think it’s important we follow this up. There are very few local authorities that would have matchfunding in place. Failte Ireland have funding in place too.”
Cllr. Florence Doherty was not impressed. “What was proposed was a sea life centre, what we got seems to be amusements, not education. I’d like that sorted. Also the site is an issue, where will it go?”
Cllr. Diarmaid Doherty was of the same mind. “I think we need to wake up because I think we’re 20 years too late with sea life centres, they are scattered all over the country. We need to be looking to future not past, it’s not sustainable and I think the n612,000 we’ve set aside for it should be released and used to a better purpose. It will require heating and costs will go up.
Cllr. Sean Carty agreed. “I think we should use this money for the people who live here. There’s enough going on in Bundoran for tourists.”
Cllr. Philip McGlynn, however, was having none of that. “I proposed the initial motion for this. Erne Enterprise had the Dingle people and eight other people involved in angling and water activities making a presentation last year. It was absolutely fantastic. “The people are totally professional. The centre in Dingle has made a profit every year. They updated it, spent n4m, and it’s still making money. They’re filling accommodation. There’s no slot machines anywhere near it, it’s a proper education centre. I propose they make a presentation here.”
The Town Manager gave a brief outline of the history of the application and the amounts concerned. He said that the grant application is “parked with Failte Ireland at the moment”. That organsation, he added, was currently facing an “element of uncertainty” regarding funding and was due to have a board meeting over the coming months to decide.
“I will talk to them about this and I am also anxious to drawn down our Waterworld grants and to talk to them regarding the Surfing proposals discussed here today.”
He said he would also ask the Dingle Sea Life Centre promoters to come to Bundoran to make a presentation.
Cllr. Diarmaid Doherty questioned whether it would be viable for the council to pursue three big projects, improvements to Waterworld, the Sea Life Centre and the Surfing Hub project.
Mr Martin said: “Yes, there are a number of propositions that will be put before this council but not unless we are convinced that we have a fighting chance of accessing funding for them. We are looking at national and cross-border funding initiatives. Once we know what the council’s own contribution might be, then we will bring the proposals before the council.”