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"It's the wrong decision" - former CEO laments council decision to lend film festival €200,000

Cork Film Festival has been in financial trouble for a number of years.

shutterstock_36829765 (1) Source: Shutterstock/Peter Zurek

THE DECISION BY Cork City Council to loan the city’s international film festival €200,000 has been branded the “wrong” one by the festival’s former CEO.

Last night the council voted by a margin of 18 to eight to grant the city’s film festival a €200,000 loan, to be repaid by 2024 without interest and without any security taken. The hour-long meeting was a special one convened especially for the purpose of voting on the issue.

The film festival, which hosted its 60th edition last November, has been in financial trouble for a number of years, and is currently in debt to the tune of more than €260,000.

Speaking this morning to the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM, former festival CEO Mick Hannigan said that the council is “making the wrong decision” by giving the loan.

“I can understand why the councillors have done so, basically they had a gun put to their heads,” Hannigan, who was let go by the festival along with working partner Una Feely in 2013, said.

I think a great factor in why this loan was given is that €100,000 of the money is owed to Cork businesses, and another €30,000 is owed to Revenue.

The film festival is estimated to bring in €2.5 million for the local economy each year, while it is recognised internationally to the extent that a result at Cork can place a feature on the longlist for the Academy Awards.

“Handing out the money isn’t sufficient in itself, there needs to be far greater oversight of the financial practices,” said Hannigan, who had previously written to the council stating that full sight of the festival’s books should be granted to the council before any decision was made, something that reportedly did not come to fruition.

“Over €136,000 was lost by the festival after we left in 2013, I was ringing alarm bells about that then,” he said.

Hannigan added that the fact no-one seems to know what happened to cause that loss is a “central question that nobody has answered”.

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