Abbey director criticises 'lip service' to culture

Thu, Nov 8, 2012, 00:00

Abbey Theatre director and Senator Fiach Mac Conghail has accused the Government of “paying lip service” to culture.

He said there was a “lack of Government co-ordination or connection” between Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year of Irish arts in America in 2011, and The Gathering, next year’s flagship tourism programme.

Imagine Ireland had “looked in a macro way at how culture and tourism could support and strengthen links between Ireland and the US”. He said its success was due to Gabriel Byrne and to Culture Ireland.

The latter was being “downgraded and absorbed into the Department of the Arts”, a move which “makes no sense”.

Mr Mac Conghail was speaking in the wake of comments made on Monday by former cultural ambassador Gabriel Byrne.

Byrne dismissed The Gathering as a “scam” that amounted to a “shakedown”of the Irish disapora.

Mr Mac Conghail said while he supported The Gathering, he “absolutely agreed” with criticisms Byrne had made of Government policy on culture.

“The idea of a single advisory council for both the National Library and National Museum is a joke,” Mr Mac Conghail said.

“My view is they are centralising power around who can say what about our nation through culture by putting the museum and the library back into the department.”