Monday, March 28, 2011

Light House of the Oireachtas

While we await the outcome of John Flynn's High Court petition to wind up the Light House Cinema in Dublin here's an interesting Q&A exchange between Joe Costello TD and Minister Jimmy Deenihan in the Dáil last Thursday.

The Minister concludes, I hope the Light House will remain open and will do as much as possible to ensure it does. Obviously, I must await the outcome of the High Court hearing next week. In that regard, the Office of the Chief State Solicitor has been informed and is examining the relevant legal documents. It is important to acknowledge that the State’s investment is protected through a charge on the property. This charge allows that if the Light House ceases to operate from the premises in Smithfield in the first five years of its operation - as it opened in 2008, we are well within the five year window - the Minister can choose either the repayment of the State grants or can agree with the Cultural Cinema Consortium which would occupy the building for the remainder of the lease in order that the premises will remain in use as an arthouse-cultural cinema centre.

This is beginning to play out a little like the untimely demise of the Irish Film Theatre (it used to be in the premises now occupied by the Sugar Club) many moons ago. There is no mention of IFCO's lease/rent of Lighht House facilities. A few questions come to mind:
Who would be responsible for the repayment of the State grants, the property owner or the cinema company? Or both of them, jointly and severally as they say in legalese?
Can the Minister reasonably believe that the Film Board and the Arts Council have the resources to occupy the building for the remainder of the lease and run the cinema?
How long is the lease?

Aside from these points the Dáil debate is worth reading for a few other nuggets of information - that it's an absentee, Florida-based landlord, and that pressure from NAMA may have led to the demand for the May 2010 rent increase provided for in the lease.

Update - the High Court has granted the Light House request for an adjournment on the hearing of the landlord's petition. The adjournment is until April 15 and should allow time for the sides to reach agreement. The matter should never really have come to court and I wonder if either party had proposed or rejected a mediated solution.

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