Shannon Heritage are to receive €2m less funding than what had been sought and announced to keep Bunratty Castle & Folk Park and King John’s Castle open till the end of the year.
Eleventh hour funding to the tune of €2.6m was announced by Government officials to prevent the closures of both Bunratty Castle & Folk Park and King John’s Castle in August, however the sum that is to be provided is greatly reduced.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport has confirmed that instead €550,000 will be allocated to the Shannon Heritage operated sites to keep them open from September to the end of this year.
In their initial application to receive funding, Shannon Group had accounted for operational losses and planned capital works. The financial backing from the Department will cover incremental losses at the sites while insurance fees will not be included.
Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) insisted that the Government remains committed to Shannon Heritage sites. “It became very clear that this figure includes losses and were unable to cover losses therefore the commitment is unchanged. There is a lot of positivity, it shouldn’t be misconstrued by anyone, anyone working for Shannon Heritage in Bunratty or King John’s Castle, their job losses have been averted and will be open to the end of the year. A new model is being explored”.
Further clarity is to be provided to Shannon Group, a spokesperson told The Clare Echo. “Shannon Group is still awaiting final details of the Government funding being provided but we understand it will cover the incremental operational losses of keeping Bunratty Castle & Folk Park and King John’s Castle open from September 1 to Dec 31st 2020”.
SIPTU organiser, Rachel Keane revealed that their members were “stunned” that the Government would not honour its promise to provide €2.6m. “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating for sites run by Shannon Heritage. However, SIPTU members ensured that these sites were maintained and developed in order to offer an attractive experience for visitors from within Ireland. Our members welcomed the announcement in August that the Government intended to provide €2.6 million in funding to keep the sites managed by Shannon Heritage open until the end of December”.
Answers on what led to the change in funding have been sought by Violet Anne Wynne (SF) who has written to the Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath (FF). “This is yet another let down for hard working people. We will not stand by and allow this unfair treatment of workers continue. The workers in Shannon Heritage fought hard over the summer months to ensure this funding was secured in the first place, and we have no doubt that they will stand up against this news to ensure their jobs are protected. Again, this shows the need for the review into the Shannon Group to be completed without delay”.