Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Arts and Culture Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD has warned that the future of Russborough House is still in doubt after raising the matter in the Dáil.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl pointed out that despite an initial breakthrough last June, Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys has failed to advance a long term plan to secure the future of the house.
“There was a short lived reprieve for Russborough House when it was announced last June that the trustees had abandoned the controversial proposal to sell a unique collection of paintings to individuals outside the state to help fund maintenance work. At the time people were hopeful that Minister Humphreys would use this breakthrough to secure a long term plan for the house, however it is becoming more apparent that she has failed to deliver this,” said Deputy Ó Fearghaíl.
“Russborough House is facing serious funding issues in the long run. People have come forward who are willing to purchase the paintings and donate them to the National Gallery. This would ensure that they remain in the ownership of the Irish people, but this plan is only viable on the condition that 100 per cent tax relief can be introduced on a one off basis to allow the sale of the paintings proceed while at the same time resolving the dire financial situation at the house.
“However when I raised this issue with Minister Humphreys in the Dáil today she confirmed that she was unable to secure a commitment from Minister Noonan for the introduction of 100 per cent tax relief on a one off basis. This has left the future of Russborough House in doubt as, even with the sale of the paintings, it will continue to have a funding shortfall into the future.
“In effect Minister Humphreys is expecting Russborough House to cannibalise itself in order to sustain the house into the future. This is unacceptable and clearly shows that the Minister either does not know what is needed to safeguard the future of the house, or is unwilling to push Minister Noonan to secure the tax relief that is necessary to ensure the house is adequately funded following the sale of the paintings.
“Russborough House and the collection of paintings on display there are a unique part of Irish culture. Minister Humphreys needs to go back to Minister Noonan and convince him to put in place the necessary arrangements to support the financial position of Russborough House. It is the least she can do considering her department is unwilling to adequately fund the house. This cultural icon cannot be allowed to go to the wall.”