Arts Committee to investigate state funding of Mary Robinson Library

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is to invite Minister Heath Humphreys, Mayo County Council, and NUIG to come before the committee to discuss the proposed multi-million euro Mary Robinson Library in Ballina.

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín, the Cathaoirleach of the Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Committee, stated: “The locating of the Mary Robinson’s archive in Ballina would be of great value to the local economy and of great interest to the many people in the region. Of course many people in Mayo are rightly proud of her achievements. However, the great cost to the state of the proposed project and the method in which decisions have been made are of serious concern to our committee.

"It is unclear who first approved of the decision to initiate the project and by which process were decisions over funding allocation made. It is unclear what role the Taoiseach had in that decision making proposal. A fortnight ago, I submitted questions to the Taoiseach whether he had any role in this decision making process and what contact he or his department had with the Department of Arts, Minister Heather Humphries, or the Robinson family. To date, the Taoiseach has refused to answer the questions, they were returned to me without a reply. As with the spiralling costs of the Galway art-house cinema, I have also significant concerns that Mayo County Council have committed to covering unforeseen costs within the project.

“It has also come to light that the former President may receive €2 million worth of tax reliefs for the ‘donation’ of her archive to the State. This is a significant cost to the state and a break with precedent. At a time of great poverty and crises in housing and health care, this transfer of millions of euro to an individual who has already received significant wages and pensions from the State will raise quite a few eyebrows throughout the country. Given the sum of money involved, and the reticence of An Taoiseach to respond to my queries, I have called on Mayo County Council, NUIG, and Minister Humphries to come before the Arts Committee. Full transparency on this issue is vital.”

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