New Abbey Theatre board is named

A NEW board of the overhauled Abbey Theatre was announced yesterday by Arts Minister John O’Donoghue, in a move aimed at putting expertise in place to better manage the troubled national theatre.

The board has 10 members, apart from the chairman, Circuit Court Judge Bryan McMahon, who was appointed by Mr O’Donoghue and who is from Listowel, in the minister’s native Co Kerry.

In what is a board of wide-ranging expertise, the theatre community is represented by actors Olwyn Fouéré and Tom Hickey, playwright Eugene O’Brien, theatre director Lynne Parker and Abbey stage manager John Stapleton, who represents the Abbey staff.

Financial expertise is brought to the board by Maurice O’Connell, former governor of the Central Bank and director of the European Investment Bank; businessman Jim Mountjoy, and Suzanne Kelly, former president of the Irish Tax Institute.

Educational and union expertise matters comes with Catherine Byrne, deputy general secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, and literary expertise is brought to the board by Declan Kiberd, UCD professor of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama.

Tom Hickey and Suzanne Kelly were appointed by Mr O’Donoghue, with the remaining eight members of the board being appointed by a selection committee made up of Judge McMahon, Arts Council chairwoman Olive Braiden, and a member of the outgoing advisory council of the Abbey, John Fairleigh.

The revamped National Theatre had its debts cleared with a grant of €5 million from Mr O’Donoghue last December. The Abbey also received €25.7m from the Arts Council to run its affairs until 2008. Long-term plans will see the theatre relocate to Dublin’s Docklands in 2009.

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