Diageo should donate its St Francis Abbey Brewery site to the city of Kilkenny after brewing operations cease there at the end of 2013, local councillors say.
Cllr Joe Reidy (FF) made the proposal at Monday night’s meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council, where he compared the situation to the sale of Kilkenny Castle to the city for a nominal amount in 1967. “When the Butlers left Kilkenny, they gave us the castle for about a pound,” he noted.
And while the St Francis Abbey Brewery site would have been worth much more during the Celtic Tiger years, it would fetch a far smaller sum in the current climate – an amount that would be “only a pimple on the balance sheet of Diageo,” Cllr Reidy said.
“I think we should approach Diageo and ask them to donate that site to the people of Kilkenny,” Cllr Reidy said. “They made millions out of there and most of the families of Kilkenny have had somebody working there. It would be a great gesture to do that and it would make no difference to their balance sheet.”
The proposal was supported by Cllr John Coonan (FF), who said: “There is no reason why we should not be positive and pro-active, and engage to see about the possibility of Diageo finding it within themselves to give us the site.
“It might seem out of the ordinary, but out-of-the-ordinary things to come to be reality as well,” Cllr Coonan said.
Members agreed to include the suggestion in their proposal to seek consultation with the company about the future of the site and the compensation that will be paid to the workers who are losing their jobs.
Cllr Paul Cuddihy (FG) said, however: “We have to also remember that companies make millions and millions, but one of the reasons they do that is they don’t give things away for free.”