Thursday, 29 April 2021
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
42. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has any plans for funding incentives or policies for cultural institutions to tackle inequality by ensuring increased access and participation for persons on lower incomes and from working class backgrounds. [22447/21]
The annual allocations to the national cultural institutions include provision for all aspects of their activities. The development of policies including education programmes and outreach initiatives is addressed as an operational matter by the management and Board in each individual institution. The cultural institutions make a constant effort to increase general visitor numbers, encourage repeated visits and to attract additional visitors through special exhibitions and programmes. Special events and outreach programmes are developed to appeal to a younger audience and to stimulate an interest in the collections. Although I have no direct role in relation to the promotional and access policies, I welcome the commitment of the institutions to promote public interest and engagement with the national collections.
It should be noted that entry to the National Cultural Institutions is free of charge. Furthermore, an additional €17.3m was provided in 2021 toward operations and development costs of the National Cultural Institutions.
43. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to outline her policy to secure the repatriation of items of cultural heritage obtained through plunder and colonialism from the UK authorities to museums here and to repatriate items of cultural institutions from museums here to nations items that were unjustly taken. [22448/21]
The National Cultural Institutions have policies in relation to historic artefacts, where such items may be considered national treasures, and constantly consider ethics and changing sensitivities around such matters. While it would be difficult to identify precisely the circumstances of acquisition in the distant past for many of the historic artefacts currently held abroad, specific proposals from interested parties for repatriation of such items can be examined at present on a case by case basis.
It is recognised that the ancient heritage of Ireland is also part of the patrimony of Europe. The transfer of artefacts from Ireland was not solely the consequence of plunder nor expropriation. The interaction of people across the centuries also included the movement of cultural treasures, most notably in the Monastic age. The primary considerations are that historic artefacts from Ireland now held abroad are in safe keeping and that they can be seen by students and visitors which is increasingly possible through digitisation initiatives.