Abbey to stay put for at least five years

 

THE ABBEY Theatre will remain at its current location for at least another five to six years and the Office of Public Works (OPW) has begun a feasibility study on the possibility of relocating it in the GPO.

Minister of State for the OPW Martin Manserghsaid a “considerable degree of pressure has been taken off the Abbey Theatre” because of its recent refurbishment. “It is quite happy it will be able to continue for the next five or six years until a new site is developed, hopefully in time for the centenary of the Rising in 2016.”

He told the Dáil that to date €219,590.32 had been spent in the development of a new national theatre. The Government had originally decided to relocate the Abbey to a site at George’s dock.

Dr Mansergh said the work done was “project specific”, not “site specific”, and “the vast majority of it could be transferred into the GPO if that is the decision”.

Fine Gael arts spokeswoman Olivia Mitchelldescribed the GPO proposal as a “red herring” and said the preparation for a design competition had been going on for years. “Three Ministers have dealt with it and it still has not been announced.” She would have loved the GPO as a location “if it had come up five or six years ago when it was first announced”. But she was concerned that “it is merely a time-wasting exercise”.

Labour arts spokeswoman Mary Uptonsaid “what is amazing is that it has gone on for so long and now quite suddenly we have had an about-turn in regard to the GPO”.

Dr Mansergh said: “I make no attempt to deny that there has been a shift in Government position on this”.

He understood that the GPO had been considered some years ago as one of a number of options, so limited work had been done on it. “As regards consultants, the vast majority if not all the work is being done in-house by the OPW.”