Single library and museum board is ‘cannibalism’

The chairman of the board of the National Museum has described as “cultural cannibalism” the decision by the Government to abolish the boards of the National Library and National Museum, two of the nation’s most cherished institutions.

John O’Mahony said the decision was a “catastrophic mistake” and would have far-reaching damaging effects.

His views were echoed yesterday by historian Diarmaid Ferriter, who described the replacement of the boards with an advisory council as a power-grabbing exercise in “cultural vandalism”.

“The skill set of our board is massively impressive,” said Dr O’Mahony. “Hoovering the work of the board back into the Department of the Arts is a seriously regressive step. There is no way the skills of the board can be matched within the department. It is a catastrophic mistake.

“The National Museum is the premier cultural institution in the country and we are being cannibalised by barbarians who do not know what they are doing. People who cherish Irish culture are horrified by this decision.”

Dr Ferriter, professor of modern Irish history at UCD, resigned last May from the board of the National Library in protest at a government proposal that the National Archives and the Irish Manuscripts Commission be merged with the National Library of Ireland.

Under the plan, a statutory National Museum and Library Advisory Council of nine members will operate in place of the existing National Library and National Museum boards.

Citing “disingenuous doublespeak” by a government intent on emasculating cultural institutions while paying lip service to them, he accused it of being “intent on doing untold damage to the very institutions which are the custodians of so much… history”.

He pointed to an “irony” in the Government working on a decade of centenary commemorations marking 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”.

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