Deenihan denies plan to dismantle cultural institutions
THE MINISTER for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has denied “some recent commentary” suggesting he is planning to effectively dismantle arts and cultural organisations.
“I am planning no such thing,” Jimmy Deenihan said, “nor, for that matter, is the Government.”
Mr Deenihan said many of the institutions had individual marketing and human resource departments. They also purchased security and insurance which might, if pooled, drive total spending down.
“This, to me, is a commonsense approach to co-operation and reform,” he added.
The three main galleries – the National Gallery of Ireland, Irish Museum of Modern Art and Crawford Art Gallery – had put a detailed proposal together on how support and operational services could be shared and this was being considered.
It went without saying, Mr Deenihan added, that the remit and independence of each of those institutions would not change under the proposals.
He was considering a range of options for the National Museum and National Library, such as whether the sharing of support functions could streamline their operations.
“In this time of diminished funding from the taxpayer, it would simply be imprudent of me not to examine all of the structures to see if they are fit for the new reality we all face in 21st-century Ireland,” he said.
Mr Deenihan rejected a Fianna Fáil Private Members’ motion calling for the publication of a cost-benefit analysis of proposed changes to the sector. The motion, which was discussed on Tuesday night and last night, also rejected the merger of various institutions.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that having listened to and researched the views of stakeholders and experts in the field, his party believed the independence and autonomy of the sector was crucial and must be maintained.
Mr Martin said the Government should think very carefully about moving in an arbitrary and cynical manner in terms of merging long-standing and valuable cultural institutions as part of a quick fix or counterproductive strategy to make savings.
“Proposals that threaten the very edifice of our national cultural architecture cannot credibly be imposed by Government without taking on board the view of stakeholders,” Mr Martin added.