Seanad Éireann - Volume 148 - 17 October, 1996

National Cultural Institutions Bill, 1996: Second Stage.

Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): The Bill before the Seanad today represents one of the most significant legislative initiatives, in cultural heritage terms, that the Irish State has undertaken since its foundation. It takes a major step in fulfilling an objective I set myself when I became the first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht — to establish a modern legislative structure within which our major cultural institutions could be enabled to thrive.

First there was the enactment of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994, which established the right of ownership of the people of Ireland to all archaeological objects of importance found with no known owner. Another major component was the enactment of the Heritage Act, 1995, which established the Heritage [1837] Council on a statutory basis and whose remit includes heritage objects. The latest building block is what is before the Seanad today — the National Cultural Institutions Bill. I refer to the other Bills because this Bill is part of a set of Bills which will become known as the heritage legislation.

The National Cultural Institutions Bill, 1996, proposes the establishment of autonomous boards to manage and care for the collections in the National Museum and the National Library; it proposes measures to underpin the development of the National Gallery; it proposes an indemnity scheme to permit exhibitions of international calibre to be seen here in Ireland on a regular basis; it proposes to provide increased protection for all objects of cultural importance wherever they are situated within the State and other ways and means through application of legislative actions are proposed through which the National Museum and the National Library may be enabled to develop their collections, not least through providing extension of deposit copyright arrangements. Through such changes we hope to create structures through which, on a systematic basis, the living memory and achievements of all facets of Irish society may be collected, to facilitate the study of anyone who wishes to understand what has moulded the Ireland of today.

I ndáiríre, ní ceart go mbeadh aon chúis míniú cén fath a bhfuil gá ann do Mhúsaem Náisiúnta nó Leabharlann Náisiúnta, ach de bharr an bharúil nach bhfuil an áit lárnach chuí ag na hinstitiúdí seo ní foláir an cheist a chur — agus í a fheagairt. Níl aon easpa dea-thola poiblí ann, dár ndóigh. Tá go leor bronntanais thabhachtacha faighte ag an Leabharlann agus ag an Músaem leis na blianta, agus d'oibrigh go leor daoine go cróga i láthair na gconstaic uafásacha le haghaidh na hinstitiúidí a choinneáil agus a fhorbairt mar atá siad inniu. Ach thar thréimhse fhada níl go leor aird tugtha ag an Stát do na riachtanais reachtúla, struchtúrtha agus acmhainne atá ag teastáil chun na struchtúir bhunúsacha [1838] le haghaidh stair na ndaoine a dhoiciméadú agus a choinneáil. An leor é mar chosaint a rá go raibh an Stát i gconaí gafa le rudaí níos práinní ar a chlár oibre? Nó nár fhág an géarghá le hinstitiúidí polaitiúla a chruthú, nó bia, tithíocht agus fostaíocht a sholáthar don phobal mórán ama chun an cheist a fhreagairt conas ar chóir leabhar na ndaoine a chlárú?

Seans gur féidir teacht ar fhreagraí i measc cúiseanna éagsúla, struchtúir riaracháin uireasacha gan fócas agus easpa treoir ina measc; b'fhéidir freisin go luíonn cuid de na deacrachtaí le rian eile ó am atá thart, sin le rá an claonadh míthuisceanach féachaint ar mhúsaem mar ionad stórais, teach stór i gcomhair lámhdhéantúsáin, áit speisialta ach do dhaoine áirithe, agus áit gan cumas dáiríre na lámhdhéantúsáin a úsáid le haghaidh cuspóirí oiliúna.

Certainly there was nothing less than insufficient appreciation of the importance records of the past have to play in the task of understanding the present and creating a secure future of tolerance. For how can one measure accomplishment, or the quality, health and well-being of a people, if there is insufficient or inaccessible record of the past with which to make comparison? How can progression of a people be justly measured if the past has not been recorded for retrieval? Not a past as exemplified by the manipulations of a contrived triumphalism or something deliberately sentimentalised, but a past overflowing with complexity, richness and humanity; not just political landmark occasions, but the self-deluding propaganda, the smoke-screens and evasions, the things which were once regarded as important, and which turned out not to be; the things which seemed trivial at the time but yet hardened into firm evidence: where evidence could be a simple employment reference for a servant girl seeking work in a big house, the preparatory sketches of a great painter, the initial designs for an important public building or a love letter written in haste by a great man [1839] caught up in the throes of a revolutionary struggle.

What such things show is that what is important is not just the transactions of living but the ways in which we choose to live. Knowledge of our forebears' ways is of no less value than the evidence accumulated illuminating great events, mass movements or the artistic achievements of our painters, writers and artisans — all, as James Joyce has articulated, resonant of the “collective unconscious of our race”. Without the capacity to recall the data, there is no sense of collective identity or community; there is no nation. Ultimately there is no coherent society, only an endless suburb inhabited by people existing in a place called anywhere.

The national cultural institutions of the National Museum and National Library are built on the achievements of the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Dublin Society. It was in 1877, through the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act, that the institutions came into being, but the Act did not in itself create institutions; the substance of the Act deals rather with conveyances of land and transfers of collections. To “find” the institutions one must look further behind the working of that Act to a formal agreement entered into in 1881 by the then Department of Science and Art with the Royal Dublin Society. This agreement established a board of visitors for the National Museum and the Botanic Gardens and a council of trustees for the National Library. Another agreement made in 1890 with the Royal Irish Academy transferring, subject to safeguards, its collections to the care of the State, completed the original structures for the museum and library.

The institutions of the museum and library, although commonly perceived as independent entities, are in fact fully integrated into the central State apparatus, the staff being civil servants and both institutions part of my Department. Under the basic legal structure the State holds the executive managerial duties relating to the museum. The [1840] duties of the board of visitors for the National Museum which includes Government, RDS and RIA appointees, are confined to an advisory role.

The administration of the National Library, too, has been a function of the State. The council of trustees, appointed by me and by the RDS, has only a supervisory role. Another constituent part of the National Library is the Genealogical Office, recognised in 1943, but with antecedents in the specialist field of heraldry going back to the 16th century.

Ba thoradh ar an aois iad na freagraí nó na réitigh a socraíodh orthu, agus na struchtúir institiúideacha a tháinig astu. Bhí an-chosúlacht eatarthu agus na heagraíochtaí daonchairdiúla a chur bailiúcháin le chéile ar mhaithe an phobail san ochtú agus sa naoú haois déag. D'éirigh chomh maith sin leis na heagraíochtaí seo gur éiríodar ró-bheag agus bhí ar an Stát, níos déanaí sa naoú haois déag, struchtúir a chur le chéile a bhfreagródh riachtanais an ré Victeóiriach agus choilíneach.

Despite the durability of the structures there has been recognised for a long time a need to delegate formally decision making to the museum and library, particularly on issues relating to care and management of the collections. Every commissioned report on the museum — in 1927, 1947, 1949, 1985 and 1995 — has concluded that the departmental structure has been a poor basis for managing and developing the museum. Successive reports of boards of visitors have pointed out in ever more urgent terms the multiplicity of curatorial problems in all areas of work, including storage, conservation and exhibition. The reports have pointed to the urgent need for the appointment of an autonomous board.

Administrative reports in relation to the library have also indicated strongly that its underlying formal basis and structures need to be defined and set out in statute. It is for these reasons that the establishment of autonomous boards for the museum and library is [1841] proposed. I believe that autonomy provided by means of statutorily established boards will give these institutions greater discretion and accountability over the handling of budgets; some flexibility over personnel resources; stronger powers to develop policies on acquisitions; the holding of exhibitions and integrating these important institutions into the national culture all within a broad compass of guiding principles set by the Oireachtas, not least on the important subjects of loans and disposal of cultural objects.

A matter of public comment on which I want to spend some time is in relation to the Genealogical Office. The role of the office within the National Library is a valuable cultural resource for the country. For this reason I consider it important that the function in relation to genealogy be set out in this legislation. In so doing the office's interests will be best served by confirming and formalising that its existence lies fully within the framework of the operation of the board of the library. Within the Genealogical Office there has also been a long standing practice of confirming and granting coats of arms by an official known as the Chief Herald.

The appellation Chief Herald has its origins in what was the Ulster Office of Arms, more commonly referred to as the office of the Chief Herald, in existence since 1552 when the title of chief herald was passed in the form of a personal patent from person to person by the British monarch. This practice continued up to 1919 when the Chief Herald was appointed in accordance with long established practice and continued until his death in 1940 with the rest of the office staff being paid by the British authorities. This function has achieved a cultural importance over the centuries and so it is proposed that its title and function be specially recognised in this Bill. The Genealogical Office is regarded as having been established by virtue of the Allocation of Administration (Genealogical Office) Order, 1943, about which there are some questions, I should say, which gave responsibility [1842] for this office to the Minister for Education.

Since 1943 the Genealogical Office has existed as a distinct entity within the framework of the National Library as well as being linked administratively to it. Staffing and budgeting have always been treated within the context of the library's function. A separate Government decision in 1943 provided that the function of granting of arms should continue and be performed by the Chief Genealogical Officer or his deputy. The staff working in the Genealogical Office were appointed as staff of the library.

The National Library and Genealogical Office are under the overall responsibility of the relevant Minister of the day, a responsibility that currently falls within the remit of the Minister of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. The proposed continuation of the linkage of the cultural resources represented by genealogy and heraldry with the National Library is regarded as both desirable and necessary in the interests of all concerned. The linkage also recognises that the genealogical function involves important access to National Library sources of material.

In order to ensure clarity in the administrative framework under the new board it was considered necessary that this issue be clarified in the Bill and the function made a responsibility of the new board. The legislation clarifies a matter about which there has been ambiguity in relation to staff, the library, the genealogical functions and the office of heraldry.

For reasons arising from a legal doubt in the 1943 order as to whether a Genealogical Office was actually established, that office must first technically be created and then abolished before pre-existing functions can be formally reconstructed and assigned to the National Library. This technical abolition should not make any substantial change to the operation of genealogy or heraldry within the library as an institution, the intention being to remove any doubt as to the authority in charge of the operation of those functions. This [1843] is what is being proposed, no more and no less.

In anticipation of the legislative change and as an interim measure, the director of the National Library was given the title when the Chief Herald and Genealogical Officer retired in the middle of 1995. His role was to act in a supervisory capacity overseeing the work of that office.

I want to turn to the role of the RDS and RIA to whom I have paid tribute in relation to their early valuable work. I have spent some time on the previous point because I believe that, unfortunately, that aspect of this Bill has been misconstrued in some comments in the media. Last week I met the staff of the cultural institutions in an open question and answer session about the new Bill. There have also been talks between the specific staffs and members and my Department to explain the Bill in detail.

In seeking to create autonomous boards the Government could not but consider carefully the respective roles of the RIA and the RDS, roles set out in the agreements of 1881 and 1890. Their work in establishing, during the 19th century, the core of the collections of the museum and library, and their watchful eyes over the last 100 years demands both a recognition and response from the State, a response required to be founded on the principle of some continuation of both that interest and their roles. To these ends extensive discussions with both bodies have taken place which, I am pleased to say, have resulted in the signing of new agreements building on those of 1881 and 1890. As a central part of the agreements the Oireachtas is being asked, through this Bill, to approve that the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Dublin Society be given the right to make a list of nominations to the new boards from which the Minister would choose a number to serve in a personal capacity.

There are proposals in the Bill dealing with the change of status of the staff of the museum and the library following [1844] the establishment of the autonomous boards. I will deal with these later when I come to outline the provisions of the Bill. However, I would like to assure Senators that I and my Department have discussed and will continue to discuss the implementation of the Bill with the staff concerned.

Measures proposed in the Bill to enhance the development of the cultural institutions will heighten the consciousness of the importance of heritage objects, but other elements are important too. Exhibitions showing us the achievements of other peoples allow us to compare with and measure our own achievements. This is particularly important since we live on an island at the edge of Europe and many will only occasionally, if at all, have the opportunity to see at first hand artistic or historic artifacts of international importance.

This Bill will make it possible for regular exhibitions to be held without the Minister of the day having to go to Government for a separate indemnification. For example, I had to make a separate application to the Government for the current Louis Le Broquy retrospective exhibition in IMMA in Kilmainham and many other exhibitions. The Bill makes that unnecessary and provides an easy way to manage it on a regular basis.

An essential component in facilitating such exhibitions is the availability of legal indemnity provisions which offer an appropriate, efficient and cost effective aid to mounting such major exhibitions. At present, a certain level of indemnity is provided by Government on a case by case basis. A clear need exists for a comprehensive statutory based scheme. While such cover is provided only for exhibition areas meeting the highest standards, it has to be recognised that no matter how well a building is secured there will always be an element of risk. It is this risk which the proposed indemnity system covers.

While indemnities are mainly required for visiting exhibitions there have been, and are, rare instances where [1845] it is either necessary or highly desirable that long-term indemnities could be offered to encourage certain heritage objects to be brought into the care of the State. Providing cover to the full value of the artifact and, by its nature, for an indefinite period, would be an unacceptable and inappropriate burden on the State. A strictly limited form of indemnity only, therefore, in this area is being proposed in the Bill.

I will now turn to heritage collections. Establishing boards for the National Museum and National Library and providing a system of indemnity cover will be of considerable assistance in deepening an awareness of heritage objects as a constituent part of the culture of the people. However, it is essential that we also provide ways and means whereby heritage items may appropriately be protected from being lost to the country.

At present, only archaeological objects are afforded full protection under Irish law, including the right of the Minister to refuse a licence for export. Under the Documents and Pictures Act, 1945, a licence from the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht must be obtained before documents over 100 years old and pictures are exported. This licence must, in all cases, be given.

A greater degree of protection is required, quite frankly. As a first step in the process of putting in place reasonable levels of protection, I am proposing to establish a register of certain heritage cultural items whose export would be a serious loss to the heritage of the country. In drawing up a register it is not being implied that other objects are not of equal heritage importance, but we must make a start.

We do not want to discourage the inflow of cultural items by private collectors — the discouragement being the knowledge of the existence of an export prohibition — since such collectors may later decide to place such items in the care of a public body. The degree of protection to be afforded must depend on various circumstances, balancing the [1846] interests involved. The Bill will apply the strongest regulatory controls only to registered heritage objects already in public care.

A related matter is that of export licences. I envisage that the export licence provisions concerning paintings will be more targeted than is currently the case. Documents over 100 years old already need a licence before being exported and a reduction in the limit to at least 70 years is seen as necessary from the archival perspective, and this is proposed in the Bill.

A new export licence category is proposed in relation to the decorative arts. The decorative arts are Irish manufactured objects, such as antique Irish glass, furniture and Belleek pottery, all of which constitute an important and integral part of the National Museum's collection in the sphere of art and industry. It is timely, therefore, that the decorative arts should be recognised in this way.

The possibility of other categories of cultural objects needing protection from being lost to the country in the future cannot be excluded. The Bill includes a power to permit the Minister to extend the categories for which there is a licence requirement. A fine is being introduced for non-compliance with the requirement to obtain the necessary export licence.

In the interests of consolidation, all the relevant export licensing requirements are to be grouped together. This consolidation process will permit the repeal of the Documents and Pictures Act, 1945, in its entirety, as well as separate export controls on archaeological objects contained in the National Monuments Acts.

I will turn now to the issue of compulsory purchase. There are many valuable cultural objects in the long-term care of public authorities but not in the outright ownership of the State. As a result of instances that have arisen occasionally in the past, there is always the real possibility that a private owner may seek to reclaim from a public authority an important heritage item in its care for [1847] many years with a view to its export and sale on the international market, and where the public authority would be virtually powerless to avoid the loss.

This is not an abstract point, I am sorry to say. A person might be motivated by the beauty of an object and the ethical impulse to share it as part of a wider cultural heritage. However, through succession, others in later generations may seek to change the terms on which the original gift was made. Clearly there is potential for controversy unless provisions are put in place now that attempt to balance — which I stress — the rights of the owner and the interests of the common good. To deal with such potentially fraught situations procedures are set out in the Bill whereby the State may acquire registered cultural objects in public care, compulsorily if necessary.

While the National Gallery's legislative structure has served it well for a long time, some of the new provisions for the museum and library would be useful and appropriate if they were to be applied to the gallery. Such provisions would include a power for the gallery to draw up by-laws on the same basis as the museum and library and provisions in relation to annual reports and accounts and borrowing powers. The opportunity afforded by the Bill is being taken to provide for these.

At present, the National Library can purchase library material that is not subject to the book deposit requirements of the Copyright Act, 1963. With the development of new technologies the range and volume of such material has expanded substantially. However, the scope for extending collections through purchase in the ordinary course is limited to what can be afforded by way of annual grant allocation. A lack of sufficient resources over a long period of time has led to fragmented private sector activities in various archival fields, for example, in the subjects of theatre, film, music and architecture. We have often been very grateful to those who [1848] have risen to meet an urgency for which provision was not made.

Clearly, to bring greater cohesion to the function of collecting items representative of our past the remit of the National Library needs to be strengthened to respond adequately to the broad range of interests and in ways that do not impose too onerous a cost on the collecting institution. Accordingly, the Bill will allow the National Library on a planned and phased basis, as storage and retrieval resources permit, to gradually expand its collection and take into account the development of new technologies since 1963.

I would like to turn to more material matters. At present the rating position of our cultural institutions continues to be founded on the Scientific Societies Act, 1843, which provides that scientific and fine arts societies are to be exempted from rating. This provision is founded on the premise of what constituted the arts in the middle of the 19th century just before the Famine. It is not established yet that the National Museum, the National Library or Heritage Council would automatically be adjudged “scientific societies” for rates exemption purposes.

In addition, while a centrally important cultural institution, the Irish Museum of Modern Art has managed to attain rates exemption in respect of its activities. The Abbey Theatre, also centrally important, has been refused rates exemption. The Bill ensures, therefore, that certain listed cultural institutions, including the National Museum and the National Library, engaged exclusively in the fields of the arts or heritage shall be exempt for rates.

Other provisions enhancing the independence of cultural institutions include a facility permitting the issue of intoxicating liquor licences for certain of the key collecting institutions. It is extraordinary in a Bill with about 68 sections that this is the one which received prepublicity, almost to the exclusion of every other provision. Perhaps this is a real need for many which I was glad to address. Only those bodies with [1849] important collections and under the aegis of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht will be included.

The Bill also makes provision for desirable changes which on their own might not justify separate legislative action or which arise from the establishment of the museum and library as autonomous boards. These provisions include the repealing of redundant legislation relating to theatres; requiring the main collecting institutions to provide assistance to the Heritage Council; widening the basis of membership of Marsh's Library at the request of its Board of Governors and Guardians; making some minor adjustments to specific provisions in the National Monuments Acts and affirming that the maintenance of the premises of the museum and library will remain the responsibility of the Office of Public Works.

I will now deal with the main provisions of the Bill. Part I, sections 1 to 7, is of a generalist nature with provisions which are relevant in one or all of the other Parts of the Bill which cover defining terms or necessary technical issues. Part II, sections 8, 9 and 10, establishes Bord Ard-Mhúsaem na hÉireann and Bord Leabharlann Náisiúnta na Éireann, sets out the names by which these institutions will be known and provides for separate establishment days for each of the boards. Each board is to be a body corporate with powers to sue and be sued and to acquire, hold and dispose of moveable property, subject to the provisions of the Bill, and land, with the consent of the Minister.

As on and from their respective establishment days, by virtue of sections 11 and 12, the boards of the National Museum and National Library shall have the general duty of maintaining, managing, controlling and expanding their collections and have all such powers as are necessary for these purposes. Section 13 provides that the business and administration of the Genealogical Office is to be carried out by the Board of the National Library and the functions of researching, granting and confirming [1850] coats of arms shall be performed by a person designated by the board as Chief Herald.

As I said earlier, I am specifically providing for the functions of genealogy and the appellation of Chief Herald in legislation in order to strengthen their status as a valuable cultural resource. It is envisaged that the title of Chief Herald will be held by the person who has the expertise in this sphere of activity while under the supervision and control of the board of the library.

The boards of the museum and library will be empowered to draw up by-laws under section 14 governing the care and protection of the collections, to charge for services rendered and, subject to ministerial consent, to charge admission fees for their institutions generally and/or in respect of specific exhibitions. Section 15 allows the Minister to confer on the boards additional functions.

Section 16 provides that the respective collections of the museum and library are, in general, to be held in repositories authorised and listed in the First Schedule and that items from the collections may only be removed from the repositories for specified reasons as provided for in the Act. The national repositories will consist in the first instance of the existing museum and library buildings contained within the Leinster House complex. Provision is also made for the designation of further repositories in the future. It is envisaged that other buildings will also be designated by order at the time of the establishment of the bodies. It is envisaged that other buildings, such as Collins Barracks, will be designated in parallel with the establishment day.

Sections 17 and 18 set out provisions governing the lending of artifacts by the museum and for the lending and disposal of material by the library. Separate arrangements are proposed for the treatment of the collections by either board having regard to the distinct and particular circumstances involved. Consultation with the Heritage Council is provided for. Section 19 sets out the [1851] numbers and composition of the persons to comprise each board, including the chairperson, 14 to 16 in respect of the museum and ten to 12 in respect of the library with provision for a number in each board to be chosen from a list of nominees provided by the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Dublin Society. A minimum of board members for each gender is provided for.

Sections 20 and 21 set out the terms of office of members of the boards and chairpersons and the conditions under which they would serve on the boards. Standard provisions such as the period of office, remuneration of board members and conduct of board meetings are provided for. Sections 22, 23 and 24 set out provisions governing meetings of the boards, establishment by the boards of advisory committees and the acquisition of a seal.

Section 25 provides that a person nominated or elected to become a Member of either House of the Oireachtas or of the European Parliament will cease to be or may not become a member of a board. Where the person concerned is a member of staff of a board that person will be regarded as seconded from his or her employment. Sections 26 and 27 provide for the making of grants of amounts each year to the boards, and basic criteria are set out under which a board may accept and invest gifts of money, land and other property.

Section 28 sets out the respective roles and functions of the directors of the National Museum and the National Library. The directors of the respective institutions are to be the chief executives of the institutions to be appointed by the board with the consent of the Minister. A director in place on the establishment day is to be deemed to have been appointed by the boards on their current terms and conditions.

Sections 29 and 30 provide for appointment of staff of a board. The numbers, levels of remuneration, terms and conditions, would be for the board to determine with the consent of the [1852] Minister and the Minister for Finance. All persons currently employed exclusively for the performance of duties within the National Museum or National Library shall become members of the staff of the relevant board on the establishment day.

The Minister is empowered to designate those of his general staff to be staff of the National Museum and the National Library. This will facilitate general civil servants who wish to stay in the museum and library after establishment day. Transfers to the employment of the new boards are to be on the basis of conditions not less favourable than before the transfer and this is explicitly recognised in the Bill.

Under section 31 a board, when determining such topics as remuneration and allowances, shall be subject to relevant guidelines and directives issued from time to time. Sections 32 and 33 set out provisions governing superannuation of staff and empower a board to borrow money.

Sections 34 and 35 set out basic provisions concerning preparation by the boards of accounts and audits of those accounts, preparation of annual reports and the supplying of information to the Minister. Section 36 provides for continuance in force of any pending legal proceedings; and sections 37 and 38 provide for transfer of certain types of property, rights and liabilities to each board. Section 39 empowers a board to employ consultants and advisers subject to any relevant guidelines and directives issued from time to time. Section 40 provides a board with an exemption from stamp duty in certain circumstances.

Part III of the Bill establishes the statutorily based State system of indemnity in respect of important cultural exhibitions imported from abroad and for valuable cultural items on long-term loan to the major collecting institutions of the State. Section 41 defines key terms used in Part III of the Bill and section 42 establishes a procedure for indemnification against the loss of, or damage to, a cultural object while on [1853] loan to certain institutions for public exhibition. The institutions are listed in the Second Schedule to the Bill.

Section 43 sets out an upper monetary limit of £150 million on total indemnities outstanding above which indemnities may not be given. A lower limit of £1 million per indemnity, subject to certain exceptions, is also cited. A procedure may be invoked permitting temporarily the setting of a new upper limit, subject to approval by resolution of each House of the Oireachtas.

Section 44 provides a mechanism whereby the list of institutions and authorised areas for indemnity purposes set out in the Second Schedule to the Bill may be amended by the Minister by order, subject to approval by resolution of each House of the Oireachtas. The institutions to be cited must have current or planned equipped exhibition areas to high standards, be in full or substantive public ownership, be experienced in presenting exhibitions of major importance or are otherwise already responsible for caring for collections of national or international importance.

Section 45 provides for giving long-term indemnities for loans of certain cultural objects to cultural institutions for periods of indefinite duration. The objects must first be registered in accordance with section 47. The value of any object must be not less than £250,000 and the cumulative amount of liability against any form of loss is set within an overall ceiling of £20 million. Indemnity against loss or damage is capped at 10 per cent of the value or £1 million, whichever is the lower. The Minister may, by order, vary the monetary amounts to which I have referred subject to approval by resolution of each House of the Oireachtas.

Part IV of the Bill sets out provisions in relation to heritage collections. Section 46 empowers, inter alia, the main collecting institutions to lend to, borrow from, or exchange with each other any cultural objects in its collection, and there is a provision to deal with the unlikely event of a conflict arising [1854] from any overlap in collection policy.

Section 47 provides for the establishment by the Minister of a register of certain classes of cultural objects whose export from the State would constitute a serious loss to Ireland's heritage. The register will be limited in size by virtue of categories and considerations as directed by the Minister.

Section 48 consolidates and updates existing export licensing provisions. Export licences will continue to be required for archaeological objects. The scope of licences in relation to paintings and old documents not in print is revised. New categories of cultural objects to which an export licensing provision will apply are established to include classes of decorative arts objects listed in a Schedule to the Bill and other classes of cultural objects so designated, by order, by the Minister. Various levels of penalty upon conviction depending on the level of offence are set out in the section.

Section 49 applies the export licensing provisions. In general, apart from archaeological objects and registered cultural objects, the applicant will be granted the export licence. Section 50 provides for delegation of export licensing and enforcement functions to the boards of the National Museum, National Library and National Gallery. Senators can see from these four sections that it is a substantive Bill with regard to the new organisation and possibilities it creates for the new institutions.

Part V of the Bill sets out procedures within which acquisition by the State of registered cultural objects in public care may be effected. I have given the background in my earlier remarks and, as I said, it may be effected compulsorily if necessary. Section 51 establishes the objects to which it applies. Under sections 52, 53 and 54, should the return of such an object be sought by an owner, there is a procedure permitting the State to acquire the object by way of vesting order.

[1855] Section 55 provides for payment of compensation. Section 56 prescribes the form and time limits for claims. Sections 57 and 58 deal with the situation where, if an offer is made and refused, the claimant may apply to the High Court in a summary manner for compensation and the High Court is empowered to fix the amount to be paid subject to criteria. Upon application by the Minister, the court is empowered to have the order discharged, in which case compensation may be awarded by the court arising as a result of the proceedings. The provision will not apply to objects brought into public care after the passing of the Bill. Cultural objects, as well as being registered, must have been in the care of a public institution for at least five years prior to commencement of the provision.

Part IV of the Bill applies certain provisions of the Bill to the National Gallery of Ireland. Under section 59 additional functions for the gallery shall be to contribute to an increase and diffusion of knowledge of the visual arts to which I attach some importance as it is an educational function, dispose of land it has acquired and engage in fund raising activities. Section 60 applies to the gallery certain provisions which are to apply to the National Museum and the National Library.

In Part VII of the Bill section 61 provides certain collecting institutions with granted licences to sell intoxicating liquor under certain conditions. The on-licence will be subject to the normal opening hours of the museum or library and otherwise be bound by general intoxicating liquor licence provisions.

Section 62 makes changes to the governance framework of the board of Marsh's Library, established under an Act of 1707, permitting the Minister, with the consent of the Governors and Guardians of Marsh's Library, to appoint two additional persons to the board. This provision, as I have explained, is included at the request of Marsh's Library.

[1856] Section 63 provides that certain listed cultural institutions and bodies, whose remit comes within the sphere of arts and heritage, shall be exempt from the rate chargeable by a local authority. The listed institutions either come directly under the aegis of the Minister or arise from the special arrangements agreed between the Minister and the Arts Council involving the Concert Hall, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Abbey Theatre.

Section 64 creates a requirement that library material, other than in the form of books and first published in the State, be delivered to the National Library within one month of first publication. The provision includes engravings, play scripts, photographs, and any form of non-print media on which information is placed. A monetary fine of up to £500 is provided for non-compliance. An enablement is provided permitting the provision to be applied to other existing deposit libraries cited in the Copyright Act, 1963. The enablement is intended to be invoked as and when the UK authorities are deciding whether to continue with such arrangements in respect of library material other than in the form of books. This would allow such material to be deposited in Trinity College under UK law with the Irish providing for reciprocal deposit of Irish material with the relevant UK deposit libraries. Section 65 applies the new penalty level to books which are already subject to deposit arrangements.

Section 66 provides that the Minister may request a board, the Director of the National Archives or the Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery to make available such advice to the Heritage Council as required to assist it in performing its functions.

Section 67 makes minor adjustments to the National Monuments Act, 1930. Section 68 provides that the Commissioners of Public Works shall be responsible for maintenance and improvement of any premises occupied by the museum and library, acting under the supervision of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

[1857] The Bill is necessarily focused on the many structures and mechanisms needed to aid the development of our national cultural institutions and help them reach their full potential. Nonetheless, legislative action, while essential, cannot be relied on to be the only building block in the process of regeneration. To seek to enact procedural changes without putting into place the resources to develop these institutions would be tantamount to frustrating the intent behind the legislative measures. The optimal development of the museum and library requires the development of their financial and staff resources in a sustained manner. While developments must take place within the framework of relevant Government policies, I am personally fully committed to making the maximum progress possible in these areas.

Ba phointe siombalach tábhachtach i bhforbairt síceach mhuintir na hÉireann é bunú an Roinn Ealaíon, Cultúir agus Gaeltachta i 1993. Ba chomhartha an cinneadh sin ar mhian na ndaoine indibhidiúlacht an náisúin a chosaint agus a chothú, indibhidiúlacht atá éagsúil agus ilghnéitheach tríd úsáid a bhaint as struchtúir pholaitiúla agus as bearta polaitúla cruinn, agus trí chinnithe éagsúla cosúil le bunú stáisiún teilifíse nua, nó cinneadh ar fhorbairt a dhéanamh ar uiscebhealach intíreach.

The decisions to which I referred were taken to establish the cultural space in Ireland as a place where significant initiatives will be taken in the areas of audio-visual and film, inland waterways, parks and monuments, land acquisition, the various collections and proper care for the institutions of the State. If the Bill meets the approval of both Houses, it will join the other legislation I have put through the Oireachtas to become the framework of heritage legislation which will enable the institutions to draw on their rich past, be secure in the present and be flexible in a new era.

These decisions were taken for the purpose of deepening a sense of a [1858] nation that will be pluralistic and will respect the complexity of things. It will also be enlightened, tolerant, appreciative of the natural environment and receptive to the world of ideas and the imagination. It is important to state that respect for the integrity and complexity of the past makes possible a tolerance in the present. However, it is also the only guarantor regarding the integrity of the imagination in the future. We must adopt this integrated view of the legislation which guides the institutions, the practices and the making of provision. The decisions we take and the structures we put in place can be no more than conduits through which to protect and nurture what is intangible, yet crucial, in the life of the people. Any test of our work during the last three years and six months, not least through the actions we take in this Bill, must, of necessity, be judged by reference to those intangible values. I would welcome such a test.

Let our work be measured by how the people have lived, by what is achieved by the writers, the poets, the artisans; in due course, let measurement be by those who seek to appreciate and study what is collected, cared for and recorded for posterity in our national cultural institutions.

Molaim an Bille don Teach.

Mr. Mooney: It is somewhat facetious to state that I could not help but reflect on a vision of the Minister standing on the back of a lorry in Galway West at election time because the last page of his speech sounded like a mission statement for the future and an acknowledgement of his contribution during the past four years. I presume that the election campaign has begun. Of all his colleagues in the Government, the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht can be justifiably proud of his record in office.

I agree with the general tenor of this Bill which seeks to establish statutory boards to care for and manage the collections of heritage objects in the National Museum and the material contained in the National Library. The [1859] scope and content of the proposals in the Bill are substantial and sweep away the cobwebs of over 100 years of benign statutory neglect of two of our major cultural institutions. The Minister is to be commended for introducing this significant Bill in this House as the first stage of the legislative process. Members will echo my view that a Bill of this substance and content is ideally suited to debate in the Upper House.

As the Minister stated, it is a substantial Bill and runs to 68 sections. Much that is good in this Bill has been obscured by the raging controversy surrounding section 13 which proposes to dissolve the Genealogical Office and legislate for the new board of the National Library to perform the functions heretofore performed by the Genealogical Office, including the duty of granting and confirming coats of arms under the style of heralding. The Minister acknowledged that this proposal has raised the hackles of those involved in the genealogical area and many others who believe that an important area of our cultural heritage is under threat.

Last October, the Minister and I jousted, if I may use that word, on the issue of heralding in this House. Much of what I argued at that time is relevant to this debate. The Minister dwelt in some detail on the background of this controversy and the office itself. For the record, the Genealogical Office dates back to 1552. The National Library was founded in 1887 and was based on collections acquired by the Government from the Royal Dublin Society. The beginnings of that institution are also predated by the Chief Herald's office. In 1552, King Edward VI formally introduced heraldry to this country by establishing the office of the Ulster King of Arms, which is generally known as the Office of Arms. The first King of Arms and Principal Herald of Ireland, Mr. Bartholomew Butler, was required by his terms of appointment to “ratify existing coats of arms and assign new ones to meritorious individuals”.

[1860] In 1943, the Office of Arms was transferred from British to Irish administration and located in the Bedford Tower in Dublin Castle. Established by Edward VI in 1552, it was renamed the Genealogical Office in that year. The Minister and I are at one on the question of obfuscation and confusion surrounding the history and statutory elements attached to the establishment of the office. The Genealogical Office was headed by a State official, the late and much respected Dr. Edward MacLysaght, whose contribution to reorganising that office cannot be overstated. It is interesting to note that the original title of Ulster King of Arms was probably used in 1552 because, when the Irish Office of Arms was established by King Edward VI, Ulster had not been subdued by the English. This is a strange historical irony in the context of the current relationship between Britain and Ireland. However, as Dr. Paisley might say, “That was then and this is now.”

In 1922, when all branches of the Civil Service came under the control of the new Government, the Office of Arms was, for some reason, an exception. It continued to function under British control and was funded and staffed by the UK Government. I appreciate the Minister's wide ranging brief in explaining the terms of the Bill but knowing his penchant for historical research I thought he might have enlightened the House why an exception was made in 1922, if only for the purpose of historical curiosity. My point is not political, it is purely historical. Why was an exception made in the case of this particular office? During the previous debate on this issue, I pointed out that one of the most ancient Irish orders, the Order of St. Patrick, was dispensed with at that time, mainly due to the constitutional imperative that titles of nobility could not be conferred on Irish citizens. The Minister and I may have exchanged words on that matter in the past, although it is not very serious. Perhaps there is a bit of the historical romantic in me since I believe we should have [1861] State orders. France is a republic, yet it has retained many of the trappings of its historical royalty. Perhaps the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, staunch republican socialist that he is, might be the Minister to reintroduce some form of State orders.

This is an issue that arises from time to time and, although it digresses somewhat from the matters before us. In the context of the Genealogical Office we should have some form of public orders which can be awarded to meritorious individuals. It has nothing to do with monarchy or royalty. Rather it is colourful and there is an attached pomp and ceremony, elements we seem to have discarded. I remember a person telling me of his tremendous experience in the 1930s seeing the hussars attached to the civil guard, a mounted battalion that paraded in full regalia. It would be wonderful to have a similar guard to parade in formation from O'Connell Street to Áras an Uachtaráin and back, perhaps twice a day. It would have great tourist potential. I am digressing from the subject matter of the Bill but I am glad to alleviate my angst on the matter.

Ms Kelly: The hygiene considerations might cause problems.

Mr. Mooney: The Senator should not diminish the purity of the thought by such basic functional matters.

On the death of Sir Neville Wilkinson, the last Ulster King of Arms in 1940 no successor to the office was appointed by the Crown. The registrar, Mr. T.U. Sadlier carried on in his capacity as deputy. When we last debated this matter I quoted from Mr. MacLysaght's memoirs of the activities of Mr. Sadlier and history has been a little unkind to him. My remarks were strongly influenced by Mr. MacLysaght's interpretation of his relationship with Mr. Sadlier and the impression may have been given that he was something less than a decent man. For historical purposes I will put the record straight. It seems Mr. Sadlier was a very [1862] positive and able individual who served the State during his time in the Bedford Tower. Sadly, he died in penury.

The first director of the National Library, Dr. R.J. Hayes, suggested to the Government in 1943 that if and when the Office of Arms was transferred it should be, attached to the National Library under the Department of Education. I do not have the public records on this matter but it would be interesting to establish whether the Government at the time sent an aide mémoire to Departments seeking a comment on the future of the office and role of the Chief Herald. There does not seem to have been any public debate on this matter and the Official Reports of the Dáil and Seanad do not indicate any debate on the establishment of the Genealogical Office.

There is a Statutory Instrument entitled “Allocation of Administration (Genealogical Office) Order, 1943.” It states:

The Government, in exercise of the powers conferred on them by subsection (1) of section 6 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 1939 (No. 36 of 1939) and of every and any other power them in this behalf enabling, hereby order as follows:—

1. This Order may be cited as the Allocation of Administration (Genealogical Office) Order, 1943.

2. The administration and business of the Genealogical Office are hereby allocated to the Department of Education.

Given under the Official Seal of the Government, this 13th day of July, 1943.

It is signed by the then Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera. This suggests that the Genealogical Office was established in 1943.

However, there seems to be have been a legal blip in 1943 as a result of which there is some doubt as to whether the Genealogical Office was legally [1863] established. This office was carried over from the British Administration of 21 years previously for an unclear reason and paid for by the UK Government. It must have rested uncomfortably with the republican Governments of the time. The issue seems to have come to a head initially in 1940 on the death of the Ulster Herald. It prompted some debate in Government but nothing was done about it for three years.

Mr. Sadlier who was the registrar, was appointed the deputy rather than the herald. Historical research indicates that Mr. Sadlier was looking to a job in London which would have given him a certain permanence. He had come from the British Administration originally. There was some suggestion that he was a Unionist by political inclination and was not all that happy about working for a republican Government, although this cannot necessarily be proven. I understand following the establishment of the Genealogical Office and the appointment of Mr. MacLysaght in 1943, Mr. Sadlier continued to work in this jurisdiction for at least another two or three years. There is no reason to suppose his objections were that ideologically strong or he would have ceased to work for the Government.

I go into detail on this matter because this is a section of the Bill about which there has been a great amount of controversy. It is important to establish the origins of this office, the reasons for it and the future role of the Chief Herald in the context of the Minister's current proposals. If I appear to be giving a history lesson I apologise. However, it is important to clarify precisely what we are talking about.

The question of legality arises and, in framing the Bill, the Minister and the parliamentary draftsman had to address what they would do with this in legal terms. It is now proposed in section 13 (1) that “the Genealogical Office shall, on the establishment day become and be dissolved”. To avoid any legal uncertainty it is necessary that the office is first technically established and then [1864] technically abolished. This will ensure that pre-existing functions can formally be reconstructed and assigned to the National Library.

It is seen by the Minister as a technical provision which should not make any substantial change to the operation of genealogy or heraldry within the library. My colleague, Deputy de Valera, who is the Fianna Fáil spokes-person on arts, culture and the Gaeltacht, and I have been lobbied on this issue in the last couple of weeks. Given the approaches made to me it would have been irresponsible for me to come into this House and oppose for the sake of opposition what seemed on the face of it a cavalier approach by the Minister to abolish what was perceived to be a historic cultural institution of great national importance, whose continuity went back to the 16th century and which had resonance, not only for those of us in this part of the island, but for our separated brethren in Northern Ireland. As a result, while I have certain proposals in this area, I understand and empathise with the Minister's approach in clarifying this historic legal and cultural anachronism.

The Government must make a choice at this point — the Minister could argue he has made it — to either establish an independent and autonomous organisation of the Chief Herald or tie the office legislatively to a national institution. I make a distinction between the position and function of the Chief Herald and the function of the Genealogical Office. They are two separate entities in that, while they coexist, overlap and interrelate, the argument put forward, if I interpret it correctly, is that the status, title, role and function of the Chief Herald should be retained separately and in its purest virginal state and should not be incorporated into anything else.

There is a certain merit in the argument and, in my discussions with those who will ultimately implement the provisions in the Bill, there is no great ideological objection to the creation of a separate Chief Herald's Office. As the Minister will be aware, there are several [1865] examples internationally of the statutory creation of the Office of Chief Herald. Scotland, our nearest neighbour, although it is within the United Kingdom, has a separate legal system and a Chief Herald on a statutory basis. In Canada, it is attached to the President's office. The Minister might argue these are Commonwealth countries and former colonies. Surprisingly, the newly created republic of Zimbabwe has a Chief Herald's Office attached to the Prime Minister's office.

I now find myself on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, I understand where we are coming from on this but, on the other, I have a certain sympathy with those who have strenuously argued for the historic continuity of what they perceive to be a major cultural institution and for its separateness and autonomy to be continued. While I sympathise with that point of view, I agree with the Minister that the office has not been separate and autonomous since 1943. Most of the arguments put to me in recent days by concerned citizens and organisations are that the office should be retained largely because of its history and place in the cultural diversity of this island. I sympathise greatly with that point of view.

In the previous Seanad debate of the future of the Chief Herald and the Genealogical Office, I sought assurances from the Minister that the unique character and functions of the office would be explicitly provided for in statute to preserve and safeguard the long-term important aspect of Irish life it represents. I cited our near neighbour Scotland as a possible example and I have cited others. I also pointed that correspondence in the national press, especially from our separated brethren in Northern Ireland, had indicated that any attempt to abolish the title and role of the Chief Herald and the Genealogical Office was, to quote one correspondent, “a shocking development”. This is mainly because the office operates on behalf of citizens on both sides of the Border and thus transcends the political divisions created since partition. I stated [1866] earlier that the Government must make a choice and it should be the creation of an independent and autonomous organisation for the Chief Herald and the Genealogical Office which would be properly funded and staffed.

There would be implications. Major cost factors would involve relocating from the existing office in Kildare Street, staffing, security surrounding the building and various other aspects. We are now in the area of an extra charge on the taxpayer. I am not sure the Minister, having burned the midnight oil on this legislation over the last 12 months, will drop his provision and promise to this House he will create a new office of State. However, I must have the courage of my convictions. We will probably return to this on Committee Stage.

Having spoken of the separateness and history of the office, there is a notion abroad that the Genealogical Office has a distinct staffing complement. The Minister has clarified this and I reiterate that it is not the case nor has it ever been. Great play is made by those lobbying for the retention of the status quo that there is a uniqueness about the staff of the Chief Herald's Office. I understand, and the Minister has confirmed, that all staff who have worked in the Genealogical Office since 1943 have been recruited by the National Library to work across its several divisions. I also understand that no special training is provided and no qualifications specific to the staff are needed in that each succeeding generation learned what it could from its predecessor. Is it that true? The point made is that there is a uniqueness to this office and a certain area of expertise which will now be lost. My understanding is that has not been the case.

Mr. M. Higgins: That is correct.

Mr. Mooney: It has been pointed out to me that, should the Genealogical Office be established as a separate autonomous body, the National Library, with its current staffing difficulties, would not be in a position to release the [1867] staff of five who work in that office. Five people would have to move into the new organisation, but the Library would not release the current officers. In other words, five new staff would have to be appointed. Apart from the five solely dedicated to work in the Genealogical Office, there is also the normal support staff in the National Library, for example, those involved in security, administration, conservation and preservation, none of whom would be available to work in a separate office. That is the current staffing situation in the Genealogical Office.

Mr. M. Higgins: That was not the reason for this legislation.

Mr. Mooney: I accept that. What I am saying is that, if the Minister were to go down the road of creating a new separate office, new staff would have to be appointed. The existing National Library staff could not be used. That is my understanding. Those who argue for the creation of a separate legal entity for the Genealogical Office and the Chief Herald's Office should keep these factors in mind. If the Minister is serious in his intent, perhaps he should consider creating a separate entity. This would go some way to answering much of the criticism and also help to allay the fears of those outside this State who seem to think this is yet another Republican plot to ignore the wishes, aspirations and cultural traditions of our separated brethren in Northern Ireland. That is what is being said and inferred in letters to the papers. The Minister is aware of that.

Mr. M. Higgins: It has been an outrageously inaccurate and irresponsible correspondence.

Mr. Mooney: The Minister should consider creating a new office of Chief Herald. Transferring the Chief Herald's duties as outlined in section 13 would not be acceptable to Fianna Fáil and we [1868] may table a number of amendments to this section on Committee Stage.

Irrespective of the final resting place of the Genealogical Office and the Chief Herald, our party is concerned at the fate of the genealogical manuscript collection currently accessed under careful environmental and security conditions in the Manuscripts Reading Room of the Library. The Minister has not gone far enough in ensuring that this collection is ring-fenced. I would be interested in his comments on that.

It is interesting to note that great emphasis has been placed on access to the Genealogical Office by the lobbyists. I am sure the point was made to the Minister that there would now be less direct access for genealogical researchers, etc., and that this would create enormous difficulties for them. This access might be denied them under the new provisions.

My understanding, this will probably raise a few hairs, is that the last Chief Herald was not an enthusiastic supporter of easy access for those who wished it. Without being unfair to the gentleman concerned, his management style may have contributed somewhat to the present difficulties with this issue. Interestingly, I received a letter this morning from a genealogist which gives credence to this view. He stated that the Genealogical Office became notorious in recent years for its growing detachment from the task of assisting persons with genealogical queries, who had to be dealt with, as well as possible in the library, which was also under strain due to paucity of resources for development. He stated that the Genealogical Office instituted a consultancy service for those willing to pay a fee which was operated on an exclusive basis by a group of freelance professional genealogists, many of whom enjoyed preferential use of the office's facilities while the public was excluded. In so far as there has been some improvement in public access to the Genealogical Office in the past year or so, it relates to the decision of the Director of the National Library to run the place on the same equitable [1869] basis as other library departments and ultimately to her assumption of the post of Chief Herald following a Government decision in September 1995.

Mr. M. Higgins: To be of assistance, heraldry is about one half of the work of the staff.

Mr. Mooney: The board of the National Museum and the board of the Library will both remain in the gift of the relevant Minister — more largesse to be dispensed at the whim of the Minister of the day and do not tell me that this will not be the case. One has only to look at the policy adopted by successive Governments since the establishment of semi-State boards to see the political reality. I know the Minister has put in certain checks and balances but it is another example of jobs for the boys. It will be interesting to see how some of these people end up on the boards, especially as Members of this House will be excluded from consideration. I would have much preferred the Minister to devote his considerable talents and energy to fighting for more resources for the existing institutions. He has been under some attack on this subject and rightly so. I know he has budgetary problems and must fight his case with the Department of Finance but the National Museum and the National Library have been under-resourced.

Section 19 will remain sacrosanct but I am concerned that a majority of the board will be in the gift of the Minister of the day. There are certain key bodies who should have the right of nomination, for example, the heads of universities and my own nominating body, the Library Association of Ireland. The Royal Irish Academy and the Irish Management Institute are others. We will submit amendments to this section on Committee Stage when we can discuss the matter in more detail.

We will also deal with sections 23, 45, 48 and 51 but as I stated at the outset there is certain validity to this Bill. It is monumental work and a credit to the Minister but I would have been more [1870] impressed if he were to come into this House and tell us that he had managed to convince his colleague, the Minister for Finance, of the need to improve the staffing and financial resources of the two institutions.

Does the introduction of this legislation go far enough to achieve the objectives set out in the National Library's strategic plan and the development plan for the National Museum? We will return to this but I am grateful to the Minster for his very detailed explanation of this highly substantive Bill. With the creation of these two boards our cultural institutions will be placed on a statutory footing. We will return to the tournament on the next Stage.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I thank the Minister for introducing this very fine Bill in Seanad Éireann, thus making the Seanad more relevant to Government and the legislative process.

This Bill is one of the finest pillars in modern legislation and will take our cultural institutions into the 21st century on a very sound statutory basis. The Minister and his staff have done trojan work in preparing the Bill and researching various aspects of it, taking into account the representations and reports on this wide area in the last few years. The Bill is comprehensive and extensive. The Minister and his staff are to be complimented for incorporating so much in one Bill.

In his introductory speech, the Minister rightly said that we are nothing unless we can collect all the data that refers to us as a people, particularly data on the past, be it manuscripts, artifacts or genealogical records. The Bill is particularly commendable because it proposes the establishment of two autonomous boards for the National Library and National Museum. In doing that the Minister has taken a fine step forward because up to now the level of interaction between both institutions and the Department has been restricted. Their spontaneous reaction to events or [1871] their ability to make decisions on specific issues was somewhat restricted. It is important that people of such expertise, skill and commitment are given full responsibility and are able to make policy decisions as they see fit. In certain cases, of course, they can refer to the Minister. This is very wise in relation to the everyday activities such as deciding to have an exhibition. It is important they make those operative decisions without consulting directly with the Department concerned.

The Minister's decision to provide an indemnity scheme is particularly commendable. It is extremely important, assuring and guaranteeing people who provide objects for displays that those objects are indemnified. This is a welcome progression which will generate more activity and allow more objects to be acquired. This will help the process and it is to be commended.

Section 48, dealing with export restrictions, is long overdue. Unfortunately, in recent years many historical cultural objects have been exported. Nobody was in a position to restrict or to prevent such exportation except in the area of archaeological artefacts. The Minister has now broadened the restrictions on exports which, hopefully, this section will be used to tightly monitor so that none of the items we wish to maintain in the State will be illegally exported.

As regards section 49, strict conditions and restrictions should be imposed on the issuing of export licences. I am pleased that the Bill introduces fines as well as restricting export licences, but some of the proposed fines, particularly on summary conviction, are too low. The Minister may consider this on Committee Stage. Even though fines for conviction on indictment are substantial they should be reviewed at regular intervals because enormous sums can accrue to those who manage to export such goods illegally. Fines should be in proportion to the value of the exported items.

[1872] As well as causing a certain amount of public outcry and concern, section 13, which deals with the Genealogical Office, has been highlighted by Senator Mooney and by the Minister. Prior to receiving representations, I had formed a view of the Genealogical Office since I come from the west of Ireland where there is a tradition of tracing family histories and a fine appreciation of family names. The old saying is: “If you lack but O or Mac, then no true Irishman are you”. Many individual names interact with other names, and the history of our people is an interesting area of study. While the National Library deals with manuscripts relating to the Irish people and their history, the National Museum deals with artefacts associated with people who lived in certain areas at a particular time. By studying either, one can appreciate the people of earlier times and how they lived.

A more important issue concerns how we stand as a race. Family tradition is an important aspect of our history and we have a far greater one than more modern countries like the United States or Australia. We have a wonderful history which is widely documented in records and is something upon which we can build. It is extremely important for people of Irish origin returning from Australia and the United States to be able to trace their roots. At the Genealogical Office they can find records of their forebears which bring people closer to this country.

There is a case for expanding the Genealogical Office on a county by county basis. In County Clare we are fortunate in having the services of Mr. Macie Cleary of Corofin who has done great work in tracing family histories in the county's 46 parishes. Great work could be achieved through linking local offices in each county to the Genealogical Office. The Minister and his Department might reflect on this.

The Minister does not propose to abolish the office as such, but to incorporate it into the National Library.

[1873] Mr. M. Higgins: To recognise it for the first time.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Yes, but I am suggesting that it should be recognised separately from the National Library so that it would have a separate identity. It may not be possible to do that, but it is something the Minister might consider because it relates to people, family names and tracing the history of the Irish race. From that point of view it has particular significance.

Some may argue that it was inherited from the British monarchy and, as such, is best forgotten. We cannot forget our past, however, because it is part of what we are, both as a nation and as a people. It should be recognised, appreciated and developed.

In purely economic terms, we can expand the area of cultural tourism. I fully appreciate that the Minister has a higher appreciation of our rich tradition, culture and history than to reduce it to economic terms. However, he might consider the value of cultural tourism as far as the Genealogical Office is concerned. As the Minister rightly states, the Office of the Chief Herald contributes only one third of the work done by the Genealogical Office, but it is an important office. I am always amazed by the number of Irish homes that display coats of arms, whether in America, Australia or Britain.

The Minister should re-examine that issue. The Government is open to suggestion and does not necessarily enter every debate with a closed mind. It has repeatedly been prepared to accept amendments on particular issues where possible. The Minister should review the situation concerning the Genealogical Office.

The Bill is welcome in that it transfers current staff from the National Library and the National Museum to the boards that will be appointed. I am pleased the position of the staff will not be diminished in any way but protected and will, hopefully, be enhanced when the transfer takes place. We must appreciate the valuable work that everyone concerned [1874] has been doing in their respective areas over the years.

Until Deputy Higgins took responsibility for this Department the value of that work was not fully appreciated at Government level. It was the Cinderella of Departments. The Minister has put this area clearly and definitively on the map. I hope, in the course of the prebudget discussions and preparation of Estimates the Minister will get the support of his fellow Ministers to provide further funding to develop this important area.

He proposes to extend the National Museum into Collins Barracks. That is welcome. It is extremely important that archives be on constant display and the National Museum does not have the space to display many of its items. I am delighted with the proposed expansion and I hope that will be a successful development.

Over the years many important artistic and archaeological works have been stolen. In recent years some of the old church and monastery ruins particularly on the islands on the River Shannon, in parts of County Clare and along the west of Ireland, have been looted. That type of behaviour is despicable. I would love to know who is paying for and seeking these important pieces of our history.

It is important to provide more protection and to impose restrictions. The restrictions proposed are commendable and I am delighted the Minister has gone as far as he has to introduce so many. Criminal gangs have made a play for some of the finest artistic works in the country. Many of them have been robbed and stored in the most extraordinary places. Some have been retrieved and some are lost. Undoubtedly, they will surface at a future date and I hope the National Museum, the art gallery and the Minister's office will be in a financial position to retrieve and secure them. This Bill provides much of the legal framework necessary to ensure they are retrieved on behalf of the nation.

It is an extensive Bill and the detail [1875] into which the Minister goes is extraordinary. He gave a fine contribution and outlined the history of the National Museum, the National Library and the Genealogical Office. He has a clear vision of what he wishes to achieve in his portfolio. He introduced the National Monuments Act, 1994, a highly commendable Act and he proceeded to bring in the Heritage Act, 1995, which established the Heritage Council. It is important that the Heritage Council, the National Museum and the National Library work closely because their work is linked. It is important that good relationships and communications exist between the personnel involved. Equally, it is important that the people charged with the responsibility of taking care of these institutions are sufficiently broad minded and recognise that they belong to the people who should have open access to them. It is important that the public at large do not feel inhibited about going to the museum, National Library or the National Gallery and do not feel that only certain sections of the public are suitable to go into these institutions. There has been cultural snobbery in this area in the past. It is extremely important to get rid of that. Everybody has a stake in this. These institutions belong to the nation and the people should have free access.

The question as to whether there will be a charge to visit these places is an administrative issue to be decided by the responsible board. The Minister should ensure there will not be a prohibitive charge for admission to these cultural institutions, particularly in respect of research in the National Library. As the Minister knows, given his educational background as a political and sociological scholar with extensive university experience it is important to recognise that students do not have money but need to do research work. They should be given free and open access to the various manuscripts and documentation available in the National Library. I am sure he will ensure that policy will continue.

[1876] This Bill is a pillar in modern legislation. It will bring us into the 21st century. It will guide these cultural institutions in a more positive, responsible and autonomous way to manage their affairs. I commend the Minister and his staff for drafting and presenting such fine legislation to the House. I invite him to reflect on the issues I raised during the debate.

Mr. Quinn: In 1910 Thomas Edison wrote to his nephew that the world had changed dramatically in his lifetime and that the world had never seen such changes as had occurred. Think back to what he would have seen in 1910. Six or seven years previously, Marconi had invented the radio. Only seven years previously the Wright brothers had made their first flight and less than 20 years before, the first motor car had been invented. He thought the world had never changed as dramatically as in his lifetime. Those words were almost the exact words used by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria in 1530 when he wrote to his nephew to the effect that in his lifetime life had changed such as it would never change again. In his lifetime, the printing press had been invented by Guttenberg, Columbus had sailed the world and discovered it was round, and even more important in effect, Martin Luther had started the Reformation. The world changes and continues to change so fast.

While I welcome this legislation, I am disappointed in it. We do not see reflected in this legislation any awareness of the different world the National Museum and the National Library are moving into. The role of these institutions will be profoundly affected by what I call “the information age”. In effect, they are now beginning to experience competition from other means of disseminating information. If the National Museum and National Library are to remain relevant to the nation's needs in the 21st century, they must embrace that new situation. We do not help by structuring them as if the information age did not exist.

[1877] One way to help them prepare for this new age is to empower them to engage in joint ventures with private sector organisations for commercial gain. That is not only not provided for in this legislation but it is alien to the ethos of such institutions. I am delighted to see provision for commercial sponsorship of events and for fund raising. However, my proposal is different. We are approaching an age in which the value of information and knowledge is becoming recognised as never before. When people value something they are prepared to pay for it. We are also approaching an age where technology is transforming the way information can be presented. This is especially true in the heritage area and the Minister competently outlined the efforts to get at the marketplace in that sector.

Information can now be made to come alive in a way that was never possible. The downside, however, is that these techniques can be extremely expensive. Nevertheless, they open new commercial opportunities. In the information age the private sector will increasingly get involved in money making projects in the areas of culture and heritage. The State institutions should get in on the act, not on their own but in partnership with outsiders who could put up the necessary finance.

The National Library and the National Museum should always remain resources that are essentially free and open to all citizens who wish to make use of them. Side by side with that, however, there is room for commercial projects. We have a choice: we can either leave it entirely to the private sector to cherry pick the profit making opportunities or we can engage the public sector in these opportunities by means of partnership. The latter course would have two advantages. The less tangible advantage is that it would engage those institutions in high profile activities that would thrust them to the centre of our national consciousness. It would put them in the mainstream rather than in a backwater rarely visited except by specialists. Senator Taylor-Quinn [1878] already spoke of the danger of that happening.

The more tangible benefit is that joint ventures would create a new income stream for the museum and the library. We should never shirk the responsibility of funding these institutions from public resources. At the same time we should not shrink from supplementing their income from commercial partnerships to the extent that this is possible. Scarcity of resources is an issue for these institutions and always has been. It will become an even bigger issue as technology begins to play a greater role in disseminating knowledge. We do not need a crystal ball to imagine a scenario in which either or both of these institutions get left behind in the new information age for want of the resources to compete.

This is particularly so in the case of the National Library. One need only walk in the doors to see and — dare I say it — smell the starvation of resources it has been suffering for decades. It is ironic that we are discussing a grandiose statutory framework for an institution that is dying on its feet for want of money. The library drew up an ambitious strategic plan several years ago. Much of that plan has not been implemented because the resources have not come through. It is clear the National Library is very low on the list of cultural priorities and I do not see anything in the Bill that is likely to change that. It will remain a low priority.

Another structural issue deserves to be highlighted. We seem to deal with our cultural institutions one to one and not as a totality. That is certainly the case with museums and libraries, although I am delighted with the Minister's reference to Archbishop Marsh's Library and the job Muriel McCarthy does there which is so worthy of praise and congratulations. I am also delighted with the link the Minister has established with non-State organisations such as the Royal Dublin Society and Royal Irish Academy through appointments to the board.

[1879] Both the National Museum and the National Library are overwhelmingly Dublin centred institutions. We structure them as if nothing else existed. Throughout the country, however, there are dozens of museums of various types and they should be part of a national network of museums; they should be seen as outreach centres of the National Museum. Perhaps because local libraries are run by local authorities there is a total split between the National Library and ordinary local libraries. To some extent the two types of libraries carry out different functions. However, there is an area of potential overlap through which local libraries could become outlets for the national institution.

In the case of the National Library there is a glaring example of the wasteful split between institutions. In addition to the National Library, Dublin is the location of Trinity College Library, one of the great libraries of Europe. The two institutions co-operate as all libraries do. However, it is ridiculous that institutionally and structurally they should be entirely separate. Years ago it might have made sense for historical reasons, but it makes no sense now. If the National Library and Trinity College Library came together in some form to create a single national institution — the thought of anything happening to Trinity College Library will frighten Senator Norris — they could become one of the greatest libraries not just in Europe but in the world. They could become a resource not only of great cultural significance but also of practical significance in the information age.

I am concerned that this Bill misses more opportunities than it addresses. However, this is Second Stage and I congratulate the Minister on the work he has put into it. Senators must work seriously on it on Committee Stage. The Minister is open minded and has shown in the past that he is ready and willing to accept amendments, and I believe he will do so in this case.

[1880] The Bill is of great importance in the context of cultural tourism. We have not even touched the edges of the potential in cultural tourism. I visited the National Archives recently. It is a marvellous institution which, under the chairmanship of Hugh O'Flaherty, is achieving a great deal. It demonstrates the potential in cultural tourism. That potential is recognised in the Bill but if we are to achieve the legislation's objectives we must examine it in a critical way so that when it passes from this House it will have been amended to give the two institutions the opportunities they seek to enhance and those institutions will have a brighter and more progressive future with its passage.

I understand that I might be permitted to share time with Senator Norris.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Sherlock): I understand agreement has been reached and that I may call Senator Norris. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Norris: I thank Senator Quinn for agreeing to share time but we discovered it was technically impossible so I would like to pay tribute to Senator Kelly and Senator Fitzgerald who generously allowed me to jump the queue. The reason for this is that we are entertaining two distinguished visitors from the Rosenbach Museum Philadelphia, where the largest completed manuscript of Joyce's Ulysses is kept and I think it appropriate that I should be able to see them.

I welcome the Bill although I have some reservations. I agree with much of what Senator Quinn said. In particular, concern has been expressed to me by a very distinguished historian Sr. Margaret McCurtain, Chair of the National Library of Ireland Association. Writing in a personal capacity she says that her concern is about “the need for continuing funding by the State of a national library. It is a service, and unlike other listings in the proposed Bill, is not capable of considerable revenue raising [1881] through fundraising or sales from the shop associated with the institution”. That is exactly the point made so effectively by Senator Quinn and I would urge the Minister to consider this and make some provision so that the library can generate additional resources through these means.

The other matter mentioned by Senator Quinn which interested me was the position of Trinity College Library. I wonder, however, whether a direct merger would be beneficial. Both of these are copyright libraries so they automatically receive copies of books printed largely within the English speaking world. It is good that this country has the opportunity to use that resource twice. Although I am Chair of the Friends of the Library at Trinity, I would welcome any situation where further co-operation between these two great libraries would be ensured. When I was teaching in Trinity we often had instances where students came from abroad and if materials were not available to them in the library in Trinity, although this was unusual, the National Library could not have been more cooperative in making its resources available and this was reciprocated.

My hesitation with the Bill relates to the question of the Genealogical Office and the Chief Herald. There was an article in The Sunday Tribune which indicated that this Bill may be defeated because it appears to abolish the Genealogical Office. It pointed out that less than a year ago the Minister said “the Genealogical Office is not being abolished nor is the work of the office being in any way diminished”. That is not the perspective of a number of people within the genealogical profession and it is clear that section 13 purports, albeit for technical reasons, to abolish the office which is the oldest office of State in the country.

Desmond Clark, Secretary of the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations, has already expressed deep concern on behalf of his organisation about this. He said that there has been no call, certainly beyond administrative circles, [1882] for the demise of the oldest national cultural institution on this island. The Genealogical Office is a symbolic focal point for the Irish diaspora and rather than dissolving it the Bill should be expanding its functions to allow it keep abreast of developments in this area. He further said that we cannot think that interest in Irish genealogy is on the decline. In purely monetary terms the Genealogical Office is an important component in the field of heritage tourism.

I am sure the Minister is aware of the significance of cultural tourism and I recall that when the then Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, visited Ireland there was an exchange of computerised genealogical information. This was extremely important in developing relations between the countries, exchanges of visits by people looking for their ancestors and the development of cultural tourism in general. The Genealogical Office is in Kildare Street and there you will find large numbers of people tracing their ancestors. It is a very important attraction.

With regard to the question of heraldry, it is worth stating information about the origin of heraldry. I quote from a book called The Poolbeg Book of Irish Heraldry by Micheál Ó Comáin;

In Ireland we are fond of heraldry. Its graphic appeal is unquestionable but more than that we enjoy it for its association with history. To an Irishman any historical event is something which only happened the day before yesterday. It is a country unique in that the conversations overheard in pubs or on the street are as likely to be about national, social or family history as about football or the news of the day. Even a short walk around Dublin or indeed almost any Irish town will provide examples of familial, corporate, ecclesiastical and territorial coats of arms. They will be found carved in stone, cast in bronze and iron, worked in stained glass or hand painted wherever fancy may have dictated. For all that, few people [1883] understand all of heraldry's functions or its full significance, or realise that it is a living, practical discipline that continues to fulfil its ages old purposes. The ability to read a coat of arms may provide access to information about the person who endowed the building on which it is carved, who signed the document to which it is affixed, is commemorated in the arms of an institution which bears his name. In our own day, to display arms on proper occasions is to create historical records for future enquirers.

Various Governments have recognised this, for example, in the granting of a coat of arms to President Clinton on his recent visit to Ireland. This was done in a manner which did not attract much publicity but I understand he accepted it with considerable enthusiasm. This was an example of the Irish State acknowledging the prominence of this man by granting him an Irish coat of arms.

Virtually every country in Europe, whether a republic like Switzerland, a former empire like Austria or indeed the United Kingdom which is still a dual monarchy, all have an office parallel to this. There is even such an office in the new Republic of South Africa. The office of the Chief Herald of South Africa is down the corridor from the office of President Nelson Mandela. I would not go as far as to say that whatever is good enough for Nelson Mandela should be good enough for us but it puts it in an interesting and complex background.

The origin of the word “heraldry” comes from the German “haren”, to cry out, and perhaps the Office of the Chief Herald is crying out against extinction at this moment. Heralds quickly became part of royal establishments. It was very practical because in battle it was necessary to recognise that you were putting an end to your enemies rather than your friends. Even in the 14th and 15th centuries there was a phenomenon of friendly fire and for that reason to harm [1884] a herald was regarded as a most serious crime. So let the Minister beware before he considers harming the Chief Herald of Ireland for one never knows what might befall him even though I wish him no ill as he is a most cultivated man.

The office itself, although it had been in existence for a century, was officially created in 1552. I am sure this has already been put on the record but what may not have been mentioned is the actual journal of Edward IV in which this event is recorded. “February 2nd: There was a King of Arms made for Ireland whose name was Ulster and his province was all of Ireland and he was fourth King of Arms and first Herald of Ireland.” That is a significant date because 400 years later on 2 February James Joyce was born. A revolutionary writer, many would think, but in virtually every book of Joyce's you will find reference to the Office of the Chief Herald or aspects of heraldry. Stephen Dedalus engages in some controversy with his friend Cranley, the original of whom was George Clancy, the Mayor of Limerick who was murdered by the Black and Tans in 1921. Cranley says:

I can't understand you. One time I hear you talk about English literature, now you talk against Irish informers. What with your name and your ideas, are you Irish at all?

The response of Stephen Dedalus is “Come with me now to the Office of Arms and I will show you the tree of my family”.

In the brothel episode of Ulysses, the figure of Simon Dedalus, the shaded, wonderful, boozy Corkman, is heard echoing through the brothel:

Wouldn't let them within the bawl of an ass. Head up! Keep our flag flying ! An eagle gules volant in a filed argent displayed. Ulster king at arms!

He was a good Nationalist who when it was neither popular nor profitable, supported the cause of the uncrowned king of Ireland, Charles Stewart Parnell. Interestingly, James Joyce awards to Simon Dedalus the arms of his own [1885] family — or, at least, the arms which he claimed which may not have been legally his entitlement — the arms of the Galway Joyces.

I am sure the Minister is aware that on the third page of Finnegan's Wake the archetypal figure of the Irishman, HCE, Humphrey Chimpton Earwicker, who is Finn MacCool, Adam, Charles Stewart Parnell, Swift and all the rest, is given a coat of arms:

Of the first was he to bare arms and a name: Wassaily Booslaeugh of Riesengebord. His crest of huroldry, in vert with ancillars, troublant, argent, a hegoak, poursuivant, horrid, horned. His scutschum fessed, with archers strung, helio, of the second.

That may not be easy to translate, even for a herald, but there are significant elements of heraldry there.

An article was written in a learned journal, the James Joyce Quarterly, recently about heraldic elements in Finnegan's Wake which led to considerable interest from America. I was blistered with all kinds of odd items, including something which I thought was a lost page of Finnegan's Wake. It was an e-mail, which I had not received before, and it looked like a series of typographical errors. However, I detected some inquires in it of this nature.

The question of the Genealogical Office is an important one. I hope the Minister will see his way to not extinguishing this office.

Mr. M. Higgins: It is not happening.

Mr. Norris: I am delighted to hear that. The office should be kept separate with appropriate people appointed to it. I would not at all, to continue the Joycean metaphor, cast nasturtiums on anybody who has been involved with the office. However, a correspondent, who shall remain nameless but who is involved in the area of heraldry, made the following points:

The most important points to be made are that this is the oldest State [1886] office which has survived both Cromwell and de Valera (Why is it so easy to associate those two names?) [Delicacy prevents me from suggesting any connections which might exist] and is now of greater importance to Irish people everywhere than at any time in the past. Because of the way the Office has been handled by its most recent incumbent it has grown to become the most important focus for the diaspora.

That is a tribute to the previous incumbent of this office. He continues:

Further, it has until recently been held in the highest regard by other heraldic establishments and should be expanded and enhanced rather than diminished. How is it possible that an office which excites such interest abroad is barely known at home and is in danger of being reduced to a subcommittee of the Library? It is a post of such great prestige that it should, at very least, be within the Department of the Taoiseach, and ideally directly answerable to the President.

Abroad, a visit by the Chief Herald of Ireland is likely to turn out prime ministers to welcome him with flags and drums; here he is largely ignored. If the job is to be handed to an unqualified person, or, worse, a whole board of them, then we are about to lose an important piece of our heritage and put to loss the huge amount of invaluable ambassadorial work which has been done by Donal F. Begley and his deputy.

It seems important to me that such people should be qualified. I understand there is a highly qualified deputy. It would be unfair to mention this person since he has not been in contact with me. However, I hear from all sources that he is extraordinarily qualified in this rather remote area of learning. Perhaps, it would be possible to ensure that somebody of that qualification will be involved. It is extremely important that this office is continued and the difficulties [1887] some of us have with the Bill should be ironed out at an early stage.

I read the Minister's speech with great interest. He referred to the measures in the Bill which will enable the National Library and the National Museum to develop, sustain and foster their collections. He mentioned the National Gallery and the Botanical Gardens. He also paid a very gracious tribute to the Royal Dublin Society, which I suppose is another anachronism. However, it would be a pity to remove it in the same way it would be a pity to remove the Genealogical Office, although the Minister has given an undertaking that apparently this will not happen. All these bodies, however regrettable some aspects of domination were, are part of our history. In Helsinki in Finland a couple of years ago I watched with great interest the way in which they preserved relics of Tsarist rule, although they disapproved very strongly of them.

The RDS was one of the most valuable contributions of the former ascendancy. We are meeting today in a building which was preserved because the RDS took it over as its headquarters. It was a remarkable cultural complex. This building comprised its meeting and reading rooms. It then created four institutions surrounding this central hub —the National Library, the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum and the National Museum. These were transferred to the ownership of the State. It was an act of considerable foresight on the part of the RDS to create those institutions. It was also instrumental in creating the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin, so we have reason to be grateful to it.

Those institutions also have some reason to be grateful to this House. I raised a matter on the Adjournment when the Botanical Gardens were in difficulty with the wonderful Turner greenhouses at precisely the time that the then Government, of which this Minister was not a member, printed a stamp for European architectural heritage [1888] year portraying the Turner greenhouses, although they were falling to pieces. As a result of the pressure of that Adjournment debate, among others, considerable sums of money were made available and those unique buildings were beautifully restored by Irish craftspeople.

I then raised an Adjournment matter on the National Gallery. I was taken around the gallery by the then subdirector, Mr. Keaveney, who is now the director, and I was able to put my hand into the open atmosphere. Paintings were literally melting off the walls. Another sum of money was made available and the Minister of the day said on his way out of the Chamber that he was not coming to the Seanad again for an Adjournment debate in which I was involved because it was too damn expensive. We were pushing an open door.

It is important to pay tribute to groups such as the RDS. In common with most people, I have one foot in the bog. The particular bog in which I have my foot used to be called Queen's County and is now Laois. I am glad to say that Thomas Pryor, who founded the RDS in the 1740s, was a good Laois man.

This is not directly relevant to the Bill, but I congratulate the Minister on the development of Teilifís na Gaeilge. Among other matters, our language is part of our national heritage. If we are not prepared to spend the money involved to allow people whose first language is Irish to receive programmes in this modern medium in the areas in which they live, we might as well not bother at all.

In his wide ranging speech the Minister spoke about the kinds of material it is important to preserve, including items which might appear to be ephemeral, such as a letter by a servant girl applying for a job. I wish to pay tribute, as I know the Minister has done in the past, to the wonderful work done in the famine museum in Strokestown. It is not narrow or sectional in its interest but tells a full story. That work was done by a [1889] local garage owner, Jim Calleary, and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Luke Dodd. I was there on the opening day and after the bun fight we were taken around the house.

I wandered up to the top rooms where, in the bedroom of Olive Packenham-Mahon, there was a woman rooting around and trying on Olive Packenham-Mahon's shoes. She turned to me and said with great relish: “Isn't it great, we to be here inside and they to be gone to hell out of it”. That was not the point of a famine museum but I could understand the gusto with which she tried on the shoes in the context of one strand in the history of the Packenham-Mahon's involving the clearance of their estate.

I pay tribute not only to the RDS and the staff of the National Library and the National Museum with whom I have worked over many years but also to the Government Publications Office which makes accessible to the public the records of these institutions. We undervalue what it does. I often buy books there, most recently a “History of Gardening” by Patrick Bowe and somebody else, an archaeological register of County Laois and a book on wildlife and plant life in the Phoenix Park. These are remarkably well produced, cheap and informative books. We are lucky to have people working in our public service who commission these works and who co-operate with the experts who may not come from within the service to produce this material.

The Minister spoke about the transfer of collections by private owners into the keeping of the National Library. That is important and should be strictly controlled. I recall my dismay when some years ago a deposit of letters left by Paul Leon, in the keeping of the National Library, were made available to the public. At that point Joyce's grandson, Stephen Joyce, intervened and claimed some letters which he, as he gloatingly suggested, destroyed. That is not proper conduct. I felt great sympathy for the library and I hope provisions in this Bill will ensure something similar could not [1890] happen again. It is an outrageous flaunting of the spirit of James Joyce who wanted everything on the record and who scandalised people by so doing.

The Minister spoke about the Chief Herald. He mentioned Sir Neville Wilkinson who I believe was the last Chief Herald. I tie this in with the question of collections going abroad because, among other things — the Minister will correct me if I wrong — Neville Wilkinson made Titiania's Palace, an enormous doll's house of extraordinary delicacy and perfection. I saw this stunning doll's house as a child when it was in Rathdrum, County Wicklow. Unfortunately it was sold and went abroad to England. What a tourist draw that could have been.

Matt McNulty, that hard headed man who is such a realist and who has done a great deal, had another doll's house called Gráinne's Palace in the Writer's Museum in Parnell Square. It is a modern house which is beautifully made but it is not of the same scale or delicacy as Titiania's Palace. I regret that we missed the opportunity to retain that beautiful work of art.

The Minister said: “As a central part of the agreements the Oireachtas is being asked, through this Bill, to approve that the Royal Irish Academy and Royal Dublin Society be given the right to make a list of nominations to the new boards from which the Minister would choose a number to serve in a personal capacity.” I approve of that provision. Since we are talking about the Royal Irish Academy, I would like to mention a curious fact.

Recently a committee chaired by Deputy Jim Mitchell recommended the abolition of the University seats in the light of democracy and so on. Who is he fooling? At least I am elected by a constituency of 30,000 graduates which is more than can be said for virtually anybody else in the House, except my five University colleagues. I am not casting aspersions on my other colleagues. If they want to raise the spectre of democracy, I would be glad to take it up.

[1891] The Royal Irish Academy is given the right to make a list of nominations but if it is as effective as the right to nominate Members of the Seanad, it will not get very far. I recall the occasion when the President of the Royal Irish Academy was nominated by that body for election to the Seanad but he did not get any votes. That says a lot about the level of democracy which exists in the constituencies from which some of my valued and delightful colleagues managed to get elected. I assure Members it is not because any of them are head of the Royal Irish Academy.

The Minister spoke about the importance of exhibitions and I agree with him 100 per cent in this regard. They explain our history, circumstances, culture and ambience and they are an effective tool in getting things done. When we were trying to rescue North Great George's Street we got a grant of £2,000 from a heritage group chaired by Louis Clohessy which was entirely spent on an exhibition of what was happening on the street. It included photographs which were properly lit and mounted and clearly explained the history and importance of the street. I believe that exhibition helped us to turn the corner in persuading Ministers and members of Dublin City Council to appreciate the need to save that beautiful street.

There is a provision in this Bill for insurance and legal indemnity which is unfortunately necessary. The Minister will recall the amusement and horror we felt when the terracotta army was resident in the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham and when a light fell from the ceiling and smashed one of the pieces; artifacts which had survived for 5,000 years came to Ireland to be done in. Although I am being extremely parochial, I am glad that talent existed in North Great George's Street to advise on the restoration. My friend Desiree Short was able to provide expert advice and guidance.

I am glad the question of heritage collections is being considered. People like Matt McNulty have operated efficiently [1892] in preserving not only Malahide Castle and Newbridge House but they have preserved the collections which continue to be kept there. The collection of furniture in Malahide Castle left the country but the Cobbs at Newbridge House came to an arrangement where the material was kept. The Minister spoke about licences for works of art leaving the country, which is extremely important and which was not the case previously. When important works of art and furniture are exported under licence a photographic record should be kept so that we will know what is gone and its importance. I would like to believe important works will be kept here because they have a particular importance and significance when viewed in their own context.

I would like to refer to the film archive. We were lucky to have people like Ciaran Hickey and the late Liam O'Leary who created the film archive being cherished in the National Library which held a fine exhibition of that material. It is good that it is not being left entirely to the enthusiastic efforts of individuals. The Minister spoke about derating certain cultural institutions, something close to my heart. Why, for example, is Trinity College not derated? Perhaps the Minister might raise that question with his colleagues. It is important that such cultural institutions are derated.

I thank the Minister for meeting myself and representatives of the RIA and Trinity College about the national endowment of the arts which is in concert with this well thought out Bill. I am happy to commend the Bill to the House with the reservations which I expressed about the Office of the Chief Herald. I am glad the Minister was here for my little introduction to Joyce. I am sure he will be sympathetic to that magical coincidence of the date — 2 February — when the Ulster King of Arms was created and James Joyce was born. I thank my colleagues for their indulgence in kindly allowing me to skip the queue to speak in this debate.

[1893] Ms Kelly: Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. Molaim go mór an obair atá á dhéanamh aige sa Roinn Ealaíon, Cultúir agus Gaeltacht. Bille an-spéisiúil is ea an Bille seo. Neartaíonn sé ArdMhúsaem na hÉireann agus Leabharlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann agus tugann sé cumhacht nua dóibh.

Cad is músaem nó leabharlann ann? What is a museum or a library? They are not mere warehouses for the storage of valuable goods or books. Items from our past cannot be seen in splendid isolation but must be viewed in such a way that this generation, can judge our progression from the past to the present and judge our way into the future. The Minister said:

For how can one measure accomplishment, or the quality, health and well-being of a people, if there is insufficient or inaccessible record of the past with which to make comparison? How can progression of a people be justly measured, if the past has not been recorded for retrieval?

It is in the light of those sentiments that I welcome the Bill today.

The Bill proposes to establish autonomous boards to manage and care for collections in the National Museum and National Library, to establish a statutory indemnity scheme to permit exhibitions of international calibre to be held in Ireland on a regular basis, to enable of the National Museum and National Library to develop their collection and to facilitate study within their buildings. In other words, the Bill gives the National Museum and National Library the legal and administrative structure they have lacked to date and brings us into line with what is happening in countries which have this legal and administrative basis for their cultural institutions.

As a result of the lack of this legal and administrative structure, the National Museum and the National Library have been left to stagnate. Funding has been neglected in many cases and they have been trying to make [1894] ends meet with their resources. We can build our future only if we cherish and care for our past.

Knowing about the daily lives of our ancestors is as important as knowing the key dates and events in our history because, in many ways, knowing what daily life was like puts flesh on the skeleton of our history.

Sections 11 and 12 are important. Section 11 states:

(1) The principal functions of the Board of the Museum shall be to maintain, manage, control, protect, preserve, record, research and enlarge the collection of museum heritage objects of the Board for the benefit of the public and to increase and diffuse in and outside the State knowledge of human life in Ireland, of the natural history of Ireland and of the relations of Ireland in these respects with other countries.

(2) The Board shall have all such powers as it considers necessary or expedient for the performance of its functions under this Act including, but without prejudice to the foregoing, the following powers:

These powers are very extensive.

Section 11(2) continues:

(a) to conserve and restore the museum heritage objects in its collection,

(b) to arrange or provide for the display of museum heritage objects in its collection.

It was a national scandal that so many pieces of our heritage lay almost moulding and rotting in warehouses because the museum did not have space or finance to put them on display. If this Bill commands the museum to do something about it, a similar situation will not arise again.

I hope in providing for the display of heritage objects the National Museum will take the trouble to build up a number of regional museums. One is not needed in every small village or hamlet but we need museums which pertain to [1895] the life of those areas. Pieces of national heritage importance which would be of relevance to a particular area should, from time to time, be shown to the people of that area.

We took a group of French visitors to the museum one day with a man and his wife from Ardagh, the home of the Ardagh Chalice which is three miles from my home town of Newcastle West. It gave us great pleasure to show the French that we were a cultured people. The craftsmanship of the Ardagh Chalice was something of which we could be proud. However, the man from Ardagh had not seen the chalice — he had to come to Dublin to see it. A regional museum which would allow such exhibits to be seen would be very important.

Section 11(2) continues:

(c) to organise or arrange for the organisation of temporary exhibitions (within or outside the State) of museum heritage objects from its collection,

(d) to lend, subject to the provisions of this Act, museum heritage objects in its collection,

(e) to promote research and scholarship,

(f) to disseminate and promote the dissemination of literature and information relating to its collection,

Many fine semi-public institutions which have museums should be allowed swap pieces with the National Museum. This is very important because each heritage object has as story. There is research and scholarship to be undertaken and what better place to do it than within the confines of the National Museum?

However, there is little point having pieces in our collection if we do not catalogue and promote them and allow young people particularly to have an appreciation of what is involved and the work that has gone into making these objects before they visit the museum.

[1896] Section 11(2) continues:

(g) to foster and promote contacts with other museums and educational establishments,

(h) to participate and promote participation in international collaborative heritage projects and, where appropriate, to enter into agreements, subject to the consent of the Minister, with comparable bodies outside the State,

Many national events relate to events which took place outside the State. Recently important items which relate to “the Wild Geese” have been catalogued. Their importance to Irish history is only echoed by their subsequent importance in European events of the time. To echo what I said earlier, we do not live in splendid isolation. We need to know what is going on internationally. We have a voice which needs to be heard in international affairs.

Section 11(2) continues:

(i) to engage in international activities concerning museum curatorship and other related matters including, where appropriate, representation of the State at conferences, meetings and seminars,

(j) to enter into agreements with other museums and cultural bodies in the State,

(k) to foster and promote the Museum as an integral part of the national culture,

(l) to acquire, borrow or accept a donation or bequest of museum heritage objects,

(m) to catalogue the museum heritage objects in its collection,

(n) to compile, publish and distribute (with or without charge) books, magazines, journals, reports or other printed matter, including aural and visual material as may be appropriate in relation to any matter connected with the functions or activities of the Board,

...

[1897] Senator Quinn's contribution can best be viewed in the context of this section.

Consideration could be given to his view that provision should be made to allow collaboration between private individuals or companies and the National Museum. This would represent a broadening of the museum's role. I would be the last to suggest that the museum should become the plaything of organisations such as the Heinz Corporation. However, there is scope for an interchange of views between private companies and the museum on how their aims can dovetail and how the dissemination of information can be brought to the fore.

Subsection 2(o) makes provision “to produce or arrange for the production of replicas of museum heritage objects in its collection or of souvenirs”. The museum could reap a great economic benefit in this regard because many people appreciate the objects they admired in the museum and would further appreciate being able to purchase a replica of such objects. This would promote tourist visits to the museum and would also help to show off our heritage.

Provision is made in subsection 2(p) to:

arrange for the sale of material relating to the collection of replicas of museum heritage objects or of souvenirs or other goods,

and in paragraph (q) to:

engage in such activities for the purpose of raising funds for the Museum as it thinks appropriate.

That long list of powers is the most important part of the Bill because it gives the museum a basis on which to work and enables it to move forward into the 21st century.

It is a shame that we have waited so long for this Bill. The National Museum was founded in the Victorian era and we have waited until now to make it our own and bring it into the 20th century. That is a scandal. I thank the Minister for having the courage to gather these [1898] powers together and introduce a Bill that will have teeth. The museum now has a good basis on which to work and the National Library will also be conferred with many similar powers.

On the issue of the Chief Herald, we have wasted much time discussing a matter which represents only a small part of the Bill. I state this in the knowledge that I live in the same county as the last holder of the office of Chief Herald. I presume he researched the genealogy of his family; if he did, he will have discovered that we are distant cousins. However, I do not know if that is a recommendation for either of us. It is unfortunate that the first line of section 13 reads as it does. The wording probably gives the impression that the Genealogical Office is being scrapped. There is much confusion regarding heraldry and genealogy which are separate, though interrelated, functions of the office. Anyone who has attempted to trace their family tree is aware that one requires a vast array of resources to obtain the relevant information, unless one's family name is listed in “Burke's Peerage”. The common or garden peasants of Ireland must consult parish records, estate papers and, if one is a landowner, one's family may be listed in “Griffith's Valuation”. The information is scattered about in various locations. I am glad this responsibility will become an integral part of the National Library. Much of the material needed to trace one's family tree must be accessed from many different sources. The library has the best facility for accessing such sources because they are not held in one location.

Section 13 makes it clear that the Genealogical Office will remain separate to the National Library while being included under its administration. Therefore, the office will have the facilities of the library at its disposal and will be able to access material from other libraries and private sources such as estate papers. That was, perhaps, not always the case. This represents a strengthening rather than a dilution of the Office of the Chief Herald. The Bill [1899] gives a great deal of power to the National Library and the National Museum which they did not have heretofore. The provision of indemnity, for example, will now permit them to hold exhibitions.

Some interesting powers are conferred in Part VII of the Bill. These include the reference to Marsh's Library and the exemption from rates in section 63. It appears that the pieces of the jigsaw are beginning to fall into place because, in section 66, the Heritage Council is being dovetailed into the National Library and the National Museum. Section 68 provides for the Office of Public Works to maintain the buildings of the library and the museum. These sections represent a knitting together of our cultural institutions.

I look forward to a positive debate on Committee Stage. I ask that Members do not become obsessed with the issue of the Chief Herald because there are matters of greater importance and relevance to the people. I thank the Minister for the work he has done on our behalf in the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht; it is appreciated.

Mr. Fitzgerald: Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire go dtí an Teach don dara lá i ndiaidh a chéile. Gan amhras, bíonn fáilte roimhe go dtí an Teach i gcónaí.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille. Tá deacraíochtaí agam le cuid de ach bhí argóint againn mar gheall air sin le déanaí.

I have doubts about certain sections of the Bill. However, these can be teased out in detail on Committee Stage. The Bill is a welcome development and not one Member raised a dissenting voice during earlier contributions.

There is an unbelievable wealth of material in Ireland. The richness of our cultural heritage includes books from bygone days to the present and many other items which have been preserved. No Government has ever given funding to the institutions mentioned in the Bill, including the Genealogical Office, the [1900] National Museum and the National Library.

Based on my holiday experiences in other countries I would put some blame on Bord Fáilte and tour operators. When I am abroad I like to browse in the museums. Usually there is an indication of the tours one can take. I was in Crete recently and we got a leaflet under the door telling us that we could visit the palace in Knossos or the museum in Heraklion. One could spend days in that museum even though their culture is different. I was amazed that at the end of the season there were still queues at the museum. I do not see similar queues at the National Library or the National Museum nor do I see 20 or 30 tour coaches outside of them. Such a development might provide much needed money for the museum and the library.

It may be superfluous to say there should be a special provision in this Bill to ensure that the Irish language will be protected. I like the Irish language to be put in a prime position because it is the foundation of our culture.

An cuimhin leis an Aire timpeall cúig nó sé bliain ó shin nuair a bhíos im' Chathaoirleach ar Chomhchoiste Gaeilge an Oireachtais agus ba eisean an Leas-Cathaoirleach? Chuamar ar turas go dtí an Leabharlann Náisiúnta chun féachaint ar an bhfoclóir a scríobh Seán an Chóta Ó Caoimheán ó Dhún Chaoin. Bhí sé láimhscríobhtha aige. Is cuimhin liom nuair a chuamar isteach agus d'oscail mé an chéad leathanach. Bhí seanfhocal ann sa sean-Ghaeilge, “Éist le fuaim na habhann agus gheobhair breac”. Níor chuala mé é sin riamh ach bhí sé go hiontach.

Bhí sé ar intinn agam an scríobhnóireacht san a chur ar ríomhaire. Chuala mé le déanaí go raibh rud déanta mar gheall ar sin ach, i ndeireadh na dála, ba mhaith liom dá gcuirfeadh an tAire Airgeadais airgead ar fáil chun an leabhar sin a fhoilsiú i gceart mar tá a lán ann. Chosnódh sé a lán airgid ach tá sé ann le 50 bliain agus tá a lán rudaí caillte scríobtha ann. Cuirfidh me glaoch ar an Aire inniu a dhícheall a dhéanamh chun [1901] an t-airgead a chur ar fáil chun an foclóir sin a fhoilsiú.

The proverb I mentioned was “Éist le fuaim na habhann agus gheobhair breac” which translates as “if you listen to the mood of the river, you will get a trout”. That expresses more than just a fisherman's view. I have been listening to the Minister's mood to find out if he will make moneys available to publish what Seán an Chóta wrote many years ago. There is always a céad míle fáilte for the Minister in the Gaeltachtaí, but if he did that there would be a special céad míle fáilte for him.

A number of years ago a taxi man asked me if I knew where in Dublin I would find two monkeys playing billiards. Although I did not realise it at the time he was referring to carvings on the outside of the Genealogical Office, reproduced in a recent newspaper article.

I understand that the Genealogical Office is almost self-financing. It could become very profitable. The Bill refers to copyright. I have often wondered if the coats of arms produced by the herald are subject to copyright. One sees them regularly in tourist areas. Is there a strict copyright on the coats of arms?

About two years ago many people around the country received a letter from a group in Dublin who would produce a book giving one's family history. It was something of a joke because nearly the same information was given in every book with small sections on one's family history. I did not buy it but I saw a book that another Fitzgerald family member bought and it was far from my family history. The crests are reproduced in the book. I wondered if copyright applies to the crests and other artefacts in the care of the National Museum which may be copied by jewellers, for example. I do not mind helping out native industry but I would be worried that the Irish market might be flooded by foreign companies.

[1902] It would appear that the Genealogical Office is to be downgraded. The Bill states:

(3) The Board shall, from time to time as occasion requires, designate a member of its staff to perform the duty of researching, granting and confirming coats of arms....

Why should it be from time to time? Why not leave it as is so that staff now there will be there in the future to maintain continuity?

Debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended at 2 p.m. and resumed at 3 p.m.