Concerns over library to house Mary Robinson’s papers

Concerns have been raised about the potential €8.5m cost of building a new presidential library in the hometown of a former holder of the office, Mary Robinson.

Concerns over library to house Mary Robinson’s papers

The Mary Robinson Centre, planned for Ballina, would be the home for her papers rather than in existing archive departments in universities — traditionally the papers have been donated to University College Dublin or Trinity College Dublin.

Last night, the RTÉ Prime Time programme reported that Ms Robinson had applied for tax relief for making the donation. According to Prime Time, that tax relief could be worth in the region of €2m.

It said NUI Galway was the academic partner for the Centre, the Department of Arts and Heritage had given a grant of €2m and Mayo County Council had committed €1.5m.

Prime Time also heard from Peader Tóibin, the chairman of the Oireachtas Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs committee.

“At our next meeting, I will be putting it to the committee that this is a serious concern and I will be asking the committee for their backing to send a letter to those three groups so they will come before us and shed light on the process they are involved in,” said Mr Tóibin.

“We just want to make sure that the money is spent properly. We simply want to make sure that the State is not on the hook for money into the future and we don’t have a crisis like we had in the Picture Palace in Galway, and the only way to do that is to create transparency and that is the objective of the committee.”

Mr Tóibin also raised concerns over “parish pump” politics.

“I think when a taoiseach is involved in a particular project in his own county, when a taoiseach gives his backing to a project before a decision is made within the Department, then there are major concerns,” he said.

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