Dáil Éireann - Volume 413 - 03 December, 1991

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Chester Beatty Library Report.

5. Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if he has received a report from the trustees of the Chester Beatty Library on the way they propose to manage and develop the library over the next five years; if such a report has been sought by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Taoiseach: Neither I nor my Department were aware that such a report had been prepared. I am asking for a copy of it in view of the substantial State funding involved in the library.

Mr. Quinn: May I convey to the Taoiseach the grave concern which is felt on all sides of the House — it is certainly felt by Members on this side of the House — about the, I hesitate to use these words, lack of adequate custodial care being applied to this treasure trove which was bequeathed to us in trust by a person to whom we gave the first honorary citizenship of this Republic? What is happening at present — we have a partial but not complete responsibility for this — is tantamount to a betrayal of that [1770] trust. I urge the Taoiseach, following his comments on the previous question, to take effective and decisive action to resolve a matter which is of grave concern to all of us. The Taoiseach knows what I am referring to.

The Taoiseach: I have heard what the Deputy said and I can give him some words of reassurance. We have now reached the position where a new director is being appointed. He is a highly qualified person who has the trust and confidence of everybody concerned. I am very encouraged by his appointment.

With regard to the other matters, I share the Deputy's concern about them. I accept that whereas the trustees are solely responsible under the testament for the running of the Chester Beatty Library and so on nevertheless there is very heavy State involvement in funding. Therefore, we all have a legitimate interest in the affairs of the Chester Beatty Library. I can only promise Deputies that we will continue to seek to have improvements brought about.

Mr. McCartan: In regard to the development report which is being prepared, may I ask the Taoiseach if it is being compiled internally or have the trustees engaged outside consultants to assist in its compilation? With regard to the appointment of the director about which he has advised the House, can the Taoiseach confirm that the director will be appointed under the new terms of reference as recommended by the O'Donnell report and whether the trustees have accepted those recommendations? Will he agree to make available to us the report or its recommendations when it is eventually supplied to him?

The Taoiseach: The report was apparently formulated internally. The new director will be on secondment. The precise terms of his secondment have not yet been finalised and we will be watching that carefully. I have not yet received the report and when I get it I will consider [1771] whether it would be of any help to Deputies.