Moving the Abbey would cost £65m


Moving the Abbey Theatre to a greenfield site would cost between £60 million and £65 million, the Minister for Arts told the Dail.

Ms de Valera said that undertaking extensive work on the existing site would cost about £50 million.

A third "do little" option in the planned development of the theatre would be to "tinker around at the edges with the existing building". She told Ms Deirdre Clune (FG, Cork South Central) during Question Time that she wanted a "radical approach" to the development of the Abbey and Peacock Theatre and in its finances.

"We cannot deal with this matter by just tinkering around at the edges." She said those in the Abbey were discussing which option was better - whether to have extensive work on the current site or to move to a new location.

"There are many who would like the Abbey Theatre to remain on the present site for historical reasons. That kind of continuity could be important to many but this matter is being reviewed by those in the Abbey Theatre."

She agreed with Ms Clune that she did not have the level of finance necessary for either option, in her departmental allocation and would have to look to her ministerial colleagues and the Minister for Finance in particular for assistance.

Ms Clune asked would there be 100 per cent funding from the State for the work, whichever option was chosen. The Minister said she had received proposals from the Abbey's board, and advice from the Arts Council and the Office of Public Works. She was evaluating their advice and would then consult her Government colleagues.

"We must first establish the principle and the path we wish to take," she said. "Then a Government decision will be made, particularly involving the Minister for Finance, on the amount of moneys which will be made available."

She concluded that "all of us recognise that the Abbey Theatre needs extensive work and I am sure all of us would wish to see that done".