Donegal playwright Brian Friel and his family have received tax breaks totalling n1.2m in return for his donating two sets of archival papers to the state.
A report in this week’s Sunday Times revealed that a tax credit of n750,000 was granted in 2000 when the dramatist donated a substantial set of papers to the National Library of Ireland.
A further tax credit of n450,000 was made last year, when a second lot of papers was handed over.
Documents obtained by the paper under the Freedom of Information Act show that the dramatist, who won a Tony award for Dancing at Lughnasa, allowed his four daughters and his sons to avail of the tax credits.
Friel’s financial consultant, Fintan Moloney, helped him obtain the second tax credit, which was resisted. Both the NLI and the Department of Arts were of the view that Friel’s original donation was to have included all future papers as well.
The playwright’s advisors argued that although he had “expressed a wish” to hand over any materials produced after 2000 as a gift, he had not given any firm commitment to do so. In 2007, they valued the materials in the second lot of archival material at n850,000.
As no formal contract was drawn up in 2000 between the NLI and Friel, the Department of Arts eventually agreed that papers after that date did not fall under the original deal. They proposed tax credits of n450,000, which was accepted at the end of last year.
The Friel donation was the last to qualify for the scheme in 2008. Last year, tax relief for heritage items was cut to 80% of the donation’s value. No works have been gifted since.