TCD ‘needs to do work’ to make Science Gallery sustainable, Taoiseach says

Two Government departments offered funding for facility amid closure threat, Dáil hears

The Science Gallery  in Trinity College Dublin faces the threat of closure. File photograph: Frank Miller

The Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin faces the threat of closure. File photograph: Frank Miller

 

Trinity College Dublin “needs to do work” to develop a new vision and a sustainable financial model for the long-term future of its Science Gallery in Dublin, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Two Government departments have offered to provide funding for a number of years to “help contribute to a sustainable model” in the gallery, he said.

“In the Department of Further and Higher Education’s engagement with Trinity College Dublin, they alongside the Department of Arts . . . [have] actually offered to provide funding for a number of years to help contribute to a sustainable model in [the] Science Gallery,” Mr Martin told the Dáil on Tuesday. “Trinity College Dublin needs to do work to develop what a new vision and a sustainable financial model for the long-term future of the Science Gallery is. The Department of Further and Higher Education is awaiting a submission from them on those issues.

“There is a separate question around the contractual arrangements with the existing staff of the gallery and that is a matter for Trinity College and their staff.”

Policy plank

Mr Martin was responding to questions from Independent TD Denis Naughten, who said scientific research has been “a key plank of Ireland’s economic and industrial policy” and also been vital in the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“That is down to our scientists, many of whom were inspired to go into research through their engagement with the Science Gallery in Dublin,” Mr Naughten said.

“The Science Gallery has gone international, with offshoots from the United States to Australia. But next month, the original gallery here in Ireland is set to shut its doors for the very last time, undermining our strategy as a country to position itself as a world leader in science and technology.

“Reading between the lines, it seems the Department of Further Education and the Department of Tourism are in dispute as to who will contribute to the operational shortfall. This short-sighted internal bickering needs to stop and the doors kept open for Ireland’s sake.”

Trinity College last year informed the gallery’s 16 staff members of its decision to close the facility on Pearse Street due to unsustainable losses. However, once news of the closure plan was made public, the Government stepped in to see if it could be rescued.