Senators are to be moved out of Leinster House to allow essential refurbishment on the Seanad chamber and ante-rooms which could take up to two years.
During that time senators will move to the nearby National Museum of Ireland,taking up an upstairs a wing of the museum that has been used for lectures, educational displays, and other functions.
But former director Pat Wallace said: “Apart also from the principle of violating a building that is the national archaeological museum that houses the Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch, the Cross of Cong, this is a central cultural institution.
“I have met three senior curators with postgraduate qualifications weeping at the idea of violating a space that has belonged to the National Museum since 1890, the old British days, that was put up to cure Home Rule,” he said.
He accused Arts Minister Heather Humphreys of making a second attempt to “grab” at the National Museum.
However, Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly said the museum would be left in better condition when the Seanad moves back to Leinster House as a number of upgrades and investments have been promised as a compromise.
“This is her [Ms Humphreys’] second grab at the National Museum,” said Mr Wallace. “She put in, temporarily albeit, staff to look after the Commemorations, civil servants into the old director’s office.
“I can’t but think that there is a plan afoot here in the Department of Arts to undermine the museum and reduce its importance in that area the board of works are not without blemish here.”