Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Paul Coghlan (Fine Gael)
I thank the Minister for being in the House at this hour to take this Adjournment matter given that he is not the Minister responsible and has had a long day in the Chamber. We all realise the importance of the Abbey Theatre not only to the greater Dublin area but the country at large. It is our national theatre and the idea of developing a new theatre at another location in central Dublin has been mooted for a long time. The Ceann Comhairle, when he was Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, probably did something to advance the idea in 2002. His successor in that portfolio, Deputy Séamus Brennan, announced more than a year ago that the design phase would be completed by mid-2008. We have recently learned that the international design competition has been delayed. According to a recent newspaper report, the competition has not yet been initiated despite promises from the former Minister and perhaps others. What is the position regarding the design phase?
I understand the Office of Public Works appointed a group as theatre consultants and a site at George's Quay in the docklands was agreed. Recently, the possibility of using the old Carlton site on O'Connell Street has been discussed. I ask the Minister to provide further details in this regard.
I understand the project will be pursued under a public-private partnership. Will the OPW act as project manager and technical adviser? What is the role of the National Development Finance Agency? What role will be played by Jacob's Engineering Group, which I understand has been appointed? I look forward to obtaining all available information to bring us up to speed in the matter.