Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - National Museum Charges.

Patrick McCartan


4 Mr. McCartan asked the Taoiseach if he will outline his views on the practice of charging members of the public to visit some of the more striking displays in the National Museum.

I think that it may be reasonable on occasions to impose modest charges, with appropriate exceptions, for special exhibitions in the National Museum to provide additional resources to meet exceptional costs and to promote and advertise the exhibitions, so that attendances are increased. This is in accordance with international practice.

May I ask the Taoiseach what he considers to be the exceptions which might be considered? Does he have any view on the appropriateness of a charge being levied at the moment for the excellent exhibition in the National Museum of the Work of Angels which, at times, includes the Derrynaflan Chalice and other excellent pieces?

As the Deputy knows there are special times, for example, some free days, some free hours, and special categories of people such as pensioners and so on. I am not terribly enamoured at the whole idea of charging but in the case of this exhibition and some other exhibitions I suppose it is not unreasonable. I must say I am not totally committed to the idea of charging.

Will the Taoiseach confirm that any money raised by way of special charges will be put back into improving the facilities and the display area in the museum?

That is in my reply.

May I ask the Taoiseach if he or his Department are consulted by the directors of the various institutions when it is contemplated that a charge should be levied? If the Taoiseach has misgivings about the concept of charging, which we consider to be somewhat unacceptable when dealing with our national heritage, I urge him to firm up on these.

The Deputy must not think this is something we are imposing on the museum——

I asked if you or your Department are consulted——

They always consult us. I am not sure but I think the suggestion may have come from them. There is no question of our imposing this on a reluctant museum——

I was not suggesting that. I asked whether your Department were consulted and I urged you to convey to them the view of the House on the inappropriateness of charging where our national heritage is involved.

I do not want to go too far; we will take it handy.

The Government are very careful. They never go too far.

We are subject always to the fact that unless there is some pretty good reason for doing so we should not charge at all.