Taxpayers to pick up Abbey bill
TAXPAYERS are to foot a bill for almost half-a-million euro to rid the historic Abbey Theatre of a toxic problem.
The theatre is set to close for nine weeks this summer after the discovery of asbestos in its main auditorium.
The asbestos -- prolonged inhalation of which can cause serious health problems, including cancer -- was found during an inspection of the building in January.
The Health and Safety Authority was informed and has been working with theatre staff to form a plan of action.
Specialist consultants have also been involved in the process.
A statement from the Abbey said the decision had been taken to remove the asbestos for the long-term safety of staff, who may be required to work in the areas where asbestos was identified.
However, a spokeswoman for the theatre said there is no health risk for staff or patrons, and that air quality tests have been carried out by a specialist company on a weekly basis since the discovery.
The works are expected to cost in the region of €450,000 -- the funding will be provided by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
The closure of the main auditorium from July 17 to September 15 means performances of 'The Plough and the Stars' by Sean O'Casey, due to begin on July 26, will be staged in the O'Reilly Theatre on Great Denmark Street in Dublin.