Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has called on Government to direct the National Cultural Institutions to repatriate all identifiably stolen treasures and loot, stemming from Ireland’s colonial past.
Senator Warfield clarified that such material should only be returned following a national conversation, as well as the public display and independent survey of such collections, and provided that their final destination is safe and secure.
Speaking from Leinster House today, Senator Warfield said;
“It is vital that we re-imagine our National Cultural Institutions to ensure that they are inclusive and accessible to all, with increased regional outreach and digital responsibilities. Government must also increase staff numbers and opening hours and commence plans for a cutting edge storage facility to preserve access to digital and physical collections for future generations.
“Alongside that work, now is the time for society and state to have a conversation about the repatriation of all identifiably stolen treasures and loot, held by the National Cultural Institutions, stemming from our time as a British colony, provided that the final destination is safe and secure.
“Ireland is uniquely positioned to redress the imperialist legacy of Britain.
“The arts, culture, and heritage have great power when shared internationally. However, we should not forget that such collections are and always will be the heritage of indigenous people around the world; in locations such as Burma, China, and Egypt.
“Such an initiative would put pressure on London, Paris, Berlin, and other former imperial capitals and help bring to a close one of the more visible and shameful reminders of Europe’s colonial past.
“I believe that this is a conversation that our society needs to have and the Seanad is well positioned to re-start this dialogue, particularly in light of the Seanad’s impending move to the National Museum of Ireland.”