Only one event at centre this year is equestrian

Everyone remembers the controversy surrouding State funding for this center in Kildare, then Charlie McCreevy’s constituency. It seems now that all that taxpayers money was given away for nothing, as we all expected.

Just one event taking place in the controversial Agricultural and Equestrian Event Centre in Punchestown this year can be described as either equestrian or agricultural, an Oireachtas Committee heard yesterday.

During a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) the €15 million State-funded centre was described by the Department of Agriculture as meeting a need in the agricultural and equestrian sectors for such a facility.

The department was presenting a review of the project which claimed it was properly sited at Punchestown and provided a positive economic and social benefit.

Pac chairman Michael Noonan of Fine Gael questioned the relationship between a series of events taking place at the centre this year and the agricultural and equestrian sector. These included a chilled food show, the Oxegen Rock concert, a car show, a house and garden exhibition, a Christmas trade show and a commercial truck show.

He said that of the 10 events at the centre this year, the only event that appeared to be linked to agriculture was the Kildare Growers’ show, a horticultural show taking place at the moment.

“There seems to be a divergence between the theory and the practice,” Mr Noonan said.