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WHILE ARTS and media minister Catherine Martin has come in for criticism over her hands-off style when it comes to the unfolding debacle at RTÉ, this strategy is straight out of her playbook with the Abbey Theatre, where the off-stage drama has continued.

It will be recalled (see The Phoenix 5/11/21) that €700,000 was paid out by the Abbey in unusual circumstances when joint directors Graham McLaren and Neil Hughes were exiting stage left at the end of their contracts. This caused consternation in the Arts Council and, as a result of assorted questions over the theatre’s procedures, two separate reviews had to be set in motion by the Abbey Theatre.

As with RTÉ, Martin didn’t take any direct action with regard to the performance (or otherwise) of the board and, indeed, even reappointed chair Frances Ruane, albeit for only a two-year stint. On top of this, a whistleblower lobbed in a submission to the minister, which is now with the Office of Protected Disclosures.

The Arts Council withheld 20% of its €8m annual funding to the cash-strapped Abbey as a result of all the carry-on, pending the outcome of the two expensive reviews into HR procedures and corporate governance, but Goldhawk understands that the bulk of the moolah has since been released – despite there being no sign of the reviews from Crowe Ireland and DCU Business School.
Watch this space.

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