Cinema may owe State €1.75m


THE OWNERS of the Light House Cinema building may have to pay the State back €1.75 million if the Dublin cinema closes, Minister for Tourism Arts and Culture Jimmy Deenihan has said.

Alternatively, a consortium involving the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board could run an art house cinema on the site, he said.

A petition brought by developer John Flynn to wind up the company that runs the cinema is due to be heard in the High Court on Monday. Mr Flynn is seeking the order after increasing the rent from €100,000 to €200,000 a year.

The cinema’s founders, Maretta Dillon and Neil Connolly, acknowledged the increase was in the original lease, but they said they had agreed to pay a baseline rent based on a successful development “which has not occurred”.

Mr Connolly said they would be seeking an adjournment when the case comes before the High Court on Monday. He hoped this would allow for a settlement to be reached.

In response to a Dáil question from Labour TD Joe Costello, Mr Deenihan said the Chief State Solicitor’s office had been examining relevant legal documents in relation to the cinema.

The cinema, which opened in May 2008, received €1 million from the Department of Arts, Tourism and Culture in 2006 towards the cost of the construction project and another €750,000 from the Cultural Cinema Consortium (made up of the Irish Film Board and the Arts Council to promote art house film) towards fitting it out, which included the installation of four digital screens.

The original lease runs until May 2013. In the event of the Light House closing the Government could demand the return of the State grants or alternatively get the consortium to occupy the building and ensure it remained as an art house/cultural cinema centre, Mr Deenihan said.

Mr Costello, who is the local TD, welcomed the Minister’s intervention and said it “stymied” any attempt by the developer to use the space for any other purposes.