Ferriter resigns in protest from board of National Library


HISTORIAN DIARMAID Ferriter has resigned from the National Library of Ireland’s board, in protest at Government policy on culture.

He said the decision was only partly due to Government plans to amalgamate the National Library of Ireland with the National Archives.

Prof Ferriter resigned because he was “refusing to tolerate an offensive and disingenuous doublespeak” from Government. The Government paid “lip service” to the importance of the library and other cultural institutions while “it seeks to emasculate these institutions”, he said.

His resignation was “not just a frustrated reaction to the funding crisis”, he said yesterday.

People at the library were aware of the economic difficulties and were doing their best, the professor of modern Irish history at University College Dublin said.

Prof Ferriter said there had been “little clarity” from the Government as to the reasons for proposed mergers.

Public sector reform plans for State agencies and quangos were published last November.

Among the proposals were that the National Archives and the Irish Manuscripts Commission be merged with the National Library of Ireland, while retaining separate identities. It was also proposed that the Department of Arts would examine the issue of shared services and the board structure of both the National Library and National Museum.

Prof Ferriter pointed to an “irony” in the Government working on a decade of centenary commemorations to mark the foundation of the State while it was “intent on doing untold damage to the very institutions which are the custodians of so much of that history”, he said.

“Engagement and examination” on reforms were “ongoing”, the Department of Arts said yesterday, and the Minister would “revert to Government” on that “in early course”.