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Gift to the nation? October 24, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

As reported in both the current edition of the Phoenix (well worth getting) and the IT on Saturday. Diarmaid Ferriter notes that unlike previous Presidents who donated their papers to UCD or National Archives one former incumbent is taking a different route:

However, the papers of Mary Robinson, president in 1990-1997, are heading west to the new Mary Robinson Centre in Ballina, which has an estimated cost of €8.35 million. Mayo County Council, which will hold the papers in trust on behalf of the State, has committed €1.5 million to the centre, while the Department of the Taoiseach will provide €2 million, and this money will reportedly be matched through philanthropic funding.


Robinson’s archive is being assessed for acceptance as a heritage donation; under sections of the Finance Act 1995 and the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, a tax credit equal to 80 per cent of the market value of the heritage item donated can be credited against tax liabilities incurred by the donor. As the Robinson archive has been valued by Mealy’s auctioneers at €2.5million, this amounts to a possible tax credit of €2 million. Robinson has described this project as a “give back” to the people of Ireland.

I’m not sure I’m reading the Phoenix correctly but it would appear that the tax write-off for this isn’t just for Robinson but also her family given the donation is in the family name.

Here’s the Phoenix:

Under the Taxes Consolidation Act donations so classified attract at ax relief equals to 80% of the market value of the times donated… [with the Robinson archive having] a market value of €2.5m so that the Robinson family, in whose name the donation was made, will e entitled to tax relief of €2m.

There’s more, apparently both the Department of Arts and Mayo County Council have allocated between them €3.5m plus for a home for the archives in Mayo.

And what of this?

Whatever about the real value of the archive the government decision means that  [various politicians who donate] and all their successors can claim the same treatment and tax relief for their families in the future.

As Ferriter notes:

Whether these items are worth €2.5 million is arguable, but equally troubling is that an auction house ever had to be involved in the calculation of the material value in the private market of an archive of a former head of state. And why is a “master file” of the president’s engagements not the property of the State? If Robinson wants to encourage research into her career, or assessments of her legacy, she should follow the practice of her predecessors and donate her papers to the National Library, the National Archives or one of the national universities, without any need for tax credits or valuations by auctioneers and with no excessively expensive, publicly funded vanity centre.

Robinson is a former groundbreaking politician and head of state, in receipt of a very large annual pension from the public purse, being paid €121,158 last year. Her public service should extend to the donation of her archive in the proper sense, continuing a noble tradition.


How interesting.





1. Jim Monaghan - October 24, 2016

And people complain about poor Mr Trump using tax credits in what looks like a similar manner. I would wonder what is in these papers that is not available in other archives..


2. JC - October 24, 2016

Ironic to celebrate so extravagantly a job so seemingly insignificant to her that she left early to chase another shiny bauble.


3. WorldbyStorm - October 24, 2016

As someone who has used archives here, in the North, the UK and US I’d have to say that a non-national/public college/municipal one seems a curious choice to put these materials into.


4. gendjinn - October 24, 2016

Hold on? Mary Robinson generated 2.5 million in value and wasn’t taxed on it?


Tomboktu - October 24, 2016

Entirely possible, and legit, but unlikely.

Legit: If my niece takes to painting, she can expect to sell to me for, oh, €10.00 unless (until?) some art critic decides she’s the next Pabolo Picasso or Lucian Freud, in which case my niece#s €10.00 daubing shoots up. But I would only pay tax on the capital gain when I sold her art and realised the capital gain.

And unlikely: The Phoenix article points out that dollops of the stuff is mundane stuff that a lawyer or ex-president would have (and the most interesting of the stuff an ex-president would have is not part of the package). The €2.5m is inflation on the street value of items because they were hers. She hasn’t actually accumulated the €2.5m.


gendjinn - October 24, 2016

At times like these I wonder what line of attack would the Indo use if they vapidly criticised the right instead of the left.


5. dublinstreams - October 24, 2016

“Mrs Robinson has warmly supported the visitor centre initiative, which came about following an approach by Mayo County Council and Ballina Town Council to the Robinson family.” http://www.irishtimes.com/news/robinson-home-open-to-public-1.532570 but where did MCC And BTC get the idea Adrian?


6. lamentreat - October 24, 2016

Maybe they’ll sell Mary Robinson puppets in the gift shop, doing those funny jerky puppet-like hand gestures. And t-shirts with “Ireland’s Blair” on them.


7. makedoanmend - October 24, 2016


Nation’s Gift


Nation’s Grift

Cui Bono?


8. roddy - October 25, 2016

But were’nt we all told that Mary’s election was the greatest victory for the “left” since independence.!


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