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Saturday 23 September 2017

Over three dozen pieces of art 'missing' from Leinster House

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter

Thirty-seven pieces of state-owned artwork are missing or "unaccounted for" from within Leinster House, it has been confirmed.

Individual paintings, prints, statues and other pieces of state-owned artwork assigned to the Leinster House complex, under the charge of the Office of Public Works (OPW), have been misplaced following the largest changeover of offices because of the general election last year.

An initial inventory of the State's art collection has been completed and it found that 37 pieces of artwork from within Leinster House are "unaccounted for", the OPW has confirmed.

It is now up to accommodation managers in Leinster House to locate the artwork, and if they cannot, then it will officially be declared missing.

The final inventory is expected to be concluded in the "next two or three weeks", an OPW spokesman said.

Leinster House is a particularly busy complex with politicians, staff, members of the media and the public having access to different areas of the complex. Often, when staff move offices, they take artwork they like with them and this poses great difficulty to the OPW and management staff in Leinster House to keep a track on them, the spokesman said.

"We don't have the resources to constantly keep a track of where things go, but it is now up to the accommodation office in Leinster House to establish the whereabouts of these pieces," the OPW spokesman said.

"Important works of art" by Irish artists including Leo Whelan, Sean O'Sullivan, Maurice McGonigal, Patrick Hickey and Tom Ryan, are on display within Leinster House, with the OPW also taking charge for pieces in the offices of Dail deputies and senators.

Pieces from contemporary artists including James Hanley, Sonja Landweer, Mary Fitzgerald, Stephen Vaughan and Cora Cummins are part of the collection.

The collection includes 365 prints; 290 paintings; 24 sculptures; 21 drawings; 14 photographs; six "reproductions" and four pieces of textile art.

The OPW was not in a position to put a valuation on the collection, or the missing pieces, but said none of the pieces in question was of "critical importance".

In total, a record 76 new Dail deputies were elected in February 2011 and took up their offices once the 31st Dail convened on March 9, 2011, all requiring accommodation.

Combined with that, a total of 45 TDs lost their seats and a further 36 retired and did not stand for election, who needed to vacate their offices within the Leinster House.

"Given the size of the collection under the auspices of the OPW, it is impossible to know where everything is all of the time," an OPW spokesman said.

The OPW said that while a number of pieces are unaccounted for since the general election, others have been missing since before that.

Sunday Independent

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