THE National Museum of Ireland (NMI) has pleaded with the Government to rethink controversial merger plans slated as "barbarian cannibalism".
NMI chairman Dr John O'Mahony warned that the proposed abolition of their board of directors and the merger of the museum and National Library threatens "catastrophic damage" to cultural institutions.
The merger plan, devised by Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan as a cost-saving exercise, has also been slated by top Irish historians – including Dr Diarmaid Ferriter.
Last year, Dr Ferriter resigned from the National Library board in protest at the move.
Now, Dr O'Mahony has pleaded with the Government to rethink its plans before it is too late.
"The NMI is a custodian of our cultural heritage but what the minister is doing will hoover up its functions back into his department and they will get lost in a soulless bureaucracy," he said.
"It is a catastrophic mistake. The NMI is the premier cultural institution in the country and we are being cannibalised by barbarians who do not know what they are doing. People who cherish Irish culture are horrified by this decision," he added.
Under the cost-saving blueprint, a statutory National Museum and Library Advisory Council of nine members will be created.
This will replace the existing National Library and National Museum boards.
But historians and the NMI chairman warned that the new council will essentially be "a glorified fund-raising body".
Dr O'Mahony said it was "simply mind-boggling" that such a step could even be considered on the eve of the most important cultural decade in Irish history. The centenaries of World War One, the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War are all looming.
Mr Deenihan has defended the proposed changes as offering "a common-sense programme of reforms".