August 2011        

The rip-off of the people continues

The white elephant that is the National Convention Centre down in the Dublin docks is just another example of the relationship between big business and government. The much-touted “public-private partnerships” so beloved of the establishment have once again been exposed as nothing more than a rip-off of the public. The state pays the bill; corporations walk away with the profits.
     In relation to the National Convention Centre, this white elephant has hosted 267 conferences and concerts since it opened, with 84,451 people attending—an average of 300 people per event, while it has the capacity to hold 8,000. The state has handed over €43 million to the consortium behind this white elephant since it opened its doors a year ago. This amounts to a subsidy of more than €500 per person.
     The Spencer Dock Convention Centre consortium, led by Treasury Holdings, signed an agreement with the Government that commits the state to pay the consortium approximately €715 million over twenty-five years before the centre reverts to state ownership. Payments to the consortium began last September and had reached €15.4 million by the end of 2010. So far this year €27.8 million has been handed over.
     Meanwhile the Government has slashed the budget for the arts and culture, with many small theatres, galleries and festivals having their funds cut completely or slashed to a small fraction of what is is needed to function. Clearly cultural facilities for the people are far down the list of priorities for this Government.

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