Reply To: The Abbey Theatre – should it stay or should it go

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Paul Clerkin

this wont happen….

THE Cabinet yesterday approved a multi-million euro re-development of the Abbey Theatre to be funded through public/private partnership.

The proposal, brought by Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister John O’Donoghue, recommendeds the national theatre remains on its present site, in the Taoiseach’s constituency, on the north side of Dublin.

However this would mean buying the buildings surrounding the theatre which would involve negotiating with more than 20 land-owners.

The re-development will cost an estimated €200m, excluding the millions involved in the possible acquisitions.

If developing on the current site proves impossible other options, such as developing the Carlton cinema site, will be pushed.

The Government is to invite expressions of interest from the private sector for the “capital re-development” of the theatre “in and/or around the vicinity of the site of the existing theatre”.

An expert group concluded the redevelopment required an appropriate civic setting, and needed to form part of the overall urban regeneration programme covering that city centre area.

Two design options have been selected which would provide the required accommodation.

“I am pleased that it will now be possible to move forward to the next stage of this development,” said Mr O’Donoghue yesterday. “I look forward to the creation in due course of a new home for a National Theatre that reflects its important place in the cultural life of the nation and as the cradle of dramatic genius.”

A recent report examined whether the theatre should be developed upwards on its existing site on Lower Abbey St, extended down to the River Liffey or moved to a different site in the area.

It is the view of the expert group that for the national theatre to function properly the stages and ancillary services of the Abbey and Peacock must be located at ground level.

They would need 4,500 sq metres of space compared to the current 1,500 sq metres.

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