An Taisce submits strong submission re Seanad’s takeover of the National Museum building.

23rd October 2016
Press Release

An Taisce have submitted a strong submission to the Planning Department of Dublin City Council regarding the proposed use of the National Museum building by the Seanad.

The National Museum building is a Protected Structure. Yet the proposed works would entail:

  • The occupation of at least one sizable gallery – ‘The Ceramics Room’ which constitutes a change of use.
  • The breaching of the external wall of the Protected Structure in at least 3 places to facilitate entrance/exit for senators and public.
  • The attachment of a lift to the façade of the Protected Structure.
  • The loss of a Public Amenity. The ‘Ceramics Room’ is the only appropriate venue in the Museum for all their public lectures, seminars, workshops, and educational programmes and workshops, etc.

All of the above to be done with no planning permission because the relevant authorities are seeking exemptions.

An Taisce has strongly objected to the Planning Department of Dublin City Council regarding this disgraceful attempt. ‘Exempted Development’ is only permissible if ‘the works would not effect the character of the structure’.

Dr. Mark Clinton, An Taisce's Monuments & Antiquities Committee stated “Clearly the works envisaged will alter the character of the protected structure and permission for the works should not be given.”

Dr Clinton continued “At what financial cost? Figures of €1,500,000 - €1,700,000 have been mentioned in official dispatches but nobody seems to know for sure. Amazing expenditure for a ‘temporary’ facility. This is equally amazing given the fact that the National Museum has been starved of staff, resources, and funds for decades”.

ENDS

Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Dr. Mark Clinton, Monuments & Antiquities Committee, An Taisce. Tel: +353 1 832 2058
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Background

In 1815 the Royal Dublin Society bought Leinster House and its grounds from the 3rd Duke of Leinster.

Over the following decades the Society created their vision of a Cultural Campus at the heart of Dublin City.

By the beginning of the 20th century the campus contained The National Library, The National Museum, The Natural History Museum, The National Art Gallery, The National Art College, and The Royal College of Science (containing the Fossil Hall). Leinster House itself had been converted into meeting rooms, galleries, library, and a Theatre for Public lectures.

Leinster House Lawn was used for The Great Exhibition of 1853 and as the early venue for the Dublin Horse Show (from 1868).

Imagine if this Cultural Campus still existed? With footpaths and landscaping and Leinster House Lawn acting as a public park. Visitors from at home and abroad could easily have spent a day wandering from one cultural centre to another, stopping off at the various cafes, restaurants and gift shops. So what happened?

In 1922 the new State took ‘temporary’ possession of part of Leinster House (they had plans for a new Parliament Building at Kilmainham or in The Phoenix Park). By 1924 they had taken possession of the entire building. The Public Lecture Theatre became the Dáil Chamber that we know.

Next to go were the wings of the Royal College of Science. The Fossil Hall – containing what Senator Dr. Trevor West once described as ‘one of the finest natural geological collections anywhere in the world’, was closed in the 1960s and turned into ministerial offices. The vast collection of fossils was put in crates and has not been seen since.

Next to go was The National College of Art and by 1990 the Royal College of Science was completely in Government hands (now occupied by the Taoiseach’s offices).

And now in 2016 they have set their sights on part of The National Museum. Another ‘temporary’ acquisition, this time for the Senate.

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.