Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

10:30 am

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Independent)

First, I thank the Leader and other colleagues in the House for such an excellent debate yesterday on women's participation in politics. It was historic and was the first time this matter had ever been debated formally in either House of the Oireachtas since the foundation of the State and I am delighted it took place. I also am delighted there was so much interest that it will be continued, I hope on a not-too-distant date. There also was enormous interest from members of the public and members of interested groups, as was evident in the Visitors Gallery.

I also seek a debate on the future of the National Archives. I have called for a such a debate previously but I thought it was appropriate, given that others already have welcomed the reopening of the Natural History Museum or "the dead zoo", as it is affectionately called. It is great to see the reopening of this tremendous resource for the people of Dublin. I am delighted it is reopening after a number of years of closure but in that context, a debate is required on the manner in which we preserve our national heritage and on our museums and archives more generally. I have spoken in this House previously, including yesterday, on the need to ensure the maintenance of the integrity of the National Archives in particular. In common with others who work in historical research and archival studies, I am very concerned about the proposal to merge the National Archives into the National Library. This proposal has met with immense opposition from expert archivists and historians and no evidence has been produced by the Government to provide a rationale for this proposal. I already have noted that a well-attended conference on this matter, entitled Archives in Crisis, was held in Trinity College on 10 April. The Minister should attend this House to hear Members set out the reason the proposed scheme regarding the National Archives is ill conceived and the reason it is so important to preserve the country's national archives. This pertains to the manner in which we preserve our heritage and on a day when Members discuss preserving the exhibits in the dead zoo, and quite rightly, they also must think about preserving a different sort of exhibit, that is, our archives.


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