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Mary Robinson will not be giving her papers to the controversial Presidential library

Instead, they’ll be housed in NUI Galway to save money.

Victoria House in Ballina.
Victoria House in Ballina.

MARY ROBINSON WILL not be donating her presidential papers to her proposed Presidential centre in Ballina, throwing the future of the controversial project into doubt.

Instead the former President will donate the papers to NUI Galway, which already has archival storage facilities.

Former presidents have traditionally donated their papers to a university or State institution but it was planned in this case that Ireland would get its first presidential library.

The project proved problematic, however, and has been plagued by delays.

The centre is to be located in Robinson’s family home which is currently owned by her brother Adrian Burke. It has not yet been purchased by Mayo County Council with the proposed purchase price set at €660,000.

An RTÉ Prime Time report previously outlined that the library could cost Mayo County Council €1.5 million and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht €2 million.

The Victoria House Foundation, of which Robinson is a director, has so far raised about €1 million to help fund the project.

The decision not to locate the presidential papers in the centre will now, however, mean that expensive archival facilities will not need to be built.

The decision was announced this evening by the Victoria House Foundation:

Mary Robinson confirmed that her archive will be gifted to NUI Galway with Mayo County Council having full access to any part of the collection which is required to support the mission of the centre in Ballina. Storage of the archive in Galway will obviate the need to duplicate expensive archival facilities in Ballina.

Source: The Mary Robinson Centre/YouTube

A review of the overall project will also be carried out at the start of next year but a centre at Robinson’s family home “remains the preferred option”, according to the Victoria House Foundation.

Robinson’s papers have been valued at €2.5 million and it was also speculated that she would be entitled to a tax break of up to €2 million upon donation of the papers to the State.

The Board of the Victoria House Foundation met on Saturday and it has said in its statement this evening that former President Robinson reiterated at that meeting that she would not be availing of the tax break.

Peter Hynes, chief executive of Mayo County Council, has also said that he expects a centre of some form to be established in Victoria House:

This renewed commitment by the foundation and its partners will bring tremendous benefits to Ballina, to Mayo and to the West.  I look forward to Mayo County Council providing a leadership role in developing this extremely important project into the future.

Read: Controversy over €8.5 million price tag for Mary Robinson’s Presidential library >

Read: Oireachtas committee to investigate the funding of Mary Robinson Library >

 

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Rónán Duffy

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