herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Bertie Ahern's former office linked to lost art

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern

An office once occupied by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is among those linked to missing artwork in Leinster House, the Herald can reveal.

Almost two dozen works of art, including a Robert Ballagh piece, are still missing from Leinster House almost three years after they were first reported as lost.

This weekend, senior Office of Public Works (OPW) sources have confirmed that at least one piece of artwork among those currently unaccounted for was listed as being in Mr Ahern's office.

The office in question was the office Mr Ahern occupied in Leinster House before he vacated Government Buildings in 2008 when he resigned as Taoiseach.

"Inquiries in relation to the missing artwork are going on and one of the offices where some of the unaccounted-for artwork should be was the office held by Bertie Ahern," a source said.

probe

However, the senior sources are insisting that Mr Ahern is personally in no way being implicated in the unaccounted for artwork probe.

Mr Ahern left national politics in 2011 when he decided not to contest the last General Election.

Of the 21 missing pieces of art, some may have been moved amid the upheaval within Leinster House following the largest ever changeover of TDs following the 2011 General Election.

"In some cases when people moved offices, it seems some people took their artwork with them to their new premises. This, obviously, has created some difficulty in placing where artwork should be," said a government source.

An official investigation as to the status of the missing artworks remains ongoing, according to the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for managing the collection of more than 720 works of art.

Included in the 21 pieces of missing artworks are a Ballagh print entitled King's Inns Interior, and an oil painting by Brett McEntaggart worth more than €2,300.

The details of the missing works are contained in information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

INVENTORY

Both the OPW and the Houses of the Oireachtas have said an inventory process to find or account for the artworks is still "ongoing".

An OPW spokeswoman said: "I have been advised that OPW Art Management Office and Leinster House staff are currently working on the ongoing inventory process. No further information is available at this time."

hnews@herald.ie

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