Over 20 Dail works of art are missing

By Alan O'Keeffe

More than 20 artworks remain missing from Leinster House but it still is not known whether they were 'lost' or stolen.

An Office of Public Works spokeswoman has confirmed that gardai have not been contacted as it has not been established that a crime has been committed.

Many of the paintings, prints and sketches have been unaccounted for over a number of years but it is believed some may yet be located "behind a press" or in some other areas of the 11 buildings that form part of the Dail and Seanad complex, she said.

The missing artworks include an oil painting by Brett McEntagart, a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy, entitled Dordogne Meadow painted in 1991 and purchased then for the equivalent of €2,350.

A Robert Ballagh print entitled Kings Inns Interior from 1997 was purchased for the equivalent of €165.

The spokeswoman said: "We are certainly not saying that any of these artworks have been stolen. There is an ongoing audit of artworks and it is found that staff who move office can bring art with them to another office but managers were not informed."


Just 18 months ago, 37 artworks were unaccounted for but the current list of unaccounted artworks stands at 21.

The last time new artworks were added to the list was in 2008.

On display currently at Leinster House are important works by Irish artists including Leo Whelan, Sean O'Sullivan, Maurice McGonigal, Patrick Hickey and Tom Ryan, with the OPW also taking charge of 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".

There are 21 missing artworks presently but they remain on the active art register while staff continue to research where their current location may be.