The Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre, Ben Barnes, will remain on in his position following an emergency meeting of the National Theatre Society tonight.

Mr Barnes faced a vote of no confidence at the meeting amid mounting criticism of his handling of the theatre's artistic direction. The motion of no confidence was overwhelmingly defeated.

A proposal by Des Geraghty of SIPTU, who is a member of the National Theatre Society, to postpone the management rescue plan which involves laying-off a third of the Abbey's staff was agreed by the members. 

A working group is to be set up to look at all the issues involved.

A member of the board described the meeting as cordial and constructive.

The Abbey is currently celebrating its centenary but it is expected to be €2.5m in debt by the end of this year.