Merging of cultural institutions criticised


SEANAD:IRELAND’S NATIONAL cultural institutions are being treated in a profoundly secretive and cavalier fashion by the Government, Independent Senator Fiach Mac Conghail, a Taoiseach’s nominee, has said.

The resignation of historian Prof Diarmaid Ferriter from the board of the National Library of Ireland was worrying and represented a warning to Senators. The academic had complained about the lack of clarity from the Government on the reason for the merging of institutions such as the National Library and the National Archives.

Thirteen organisations are under critical review, and are due to be rationalised, amalgamated or abolished, Mr Mac Conghail said. “That is a tsunami of desecration or potential undermining of the whole cultural infrastructure of our nation.”

He called for the immediate attendance of Minister for the Arts and Heritage Jimmy Deenihan to address the issue.

Another Taoiseach’s nominee, Jillian Van Turnhout (Ind), said she wondered if the Government had adopted a new policy on culture and if there was now an end to the arms-length separation between the Minister and these national cultural institutions.

Acting Seanad leader Ivana Bacik (Lab) said she did not agree with the projected merging of institutions that had become an issue of contention and which could have negative consequences for Ireland’s culture and heritage.

David Norris (Ind) said Ireland was witnessing a dismantling of its cultural heritage.