New advisory committee on the restitution of cultural heritage

5 Dec 2023

Today (04 December 2024) marked the first meeting of a new expert committee on the restitution of historically and culturally sensitive objects in Ireland.

The Terms of Reference for the Advisory Committee are:

  • Advise the Government on issues related to the restitution of historically and culturally sensitive objects.
  • Draft policy advice and national guidelines on the restitution of cultural heritage objects in Ireland that may have been illegally or unethically elicited or traded.
  • Provide guidance to cultural institutions, including the National Cultural Institutions, on a range of matters including provenance research.

In recent years, there have been a number of cases in which cultural institutions and others have returned artefacts to their places of origin. While there is growing public awareness of these issues, as yet there are no guidelines for cultural institutions in Ireland setting out best practice in this area. The new advisory committee will provide critical support to cultural institutions and collection managers regarding professional standards in the management of cultural heritage.

The committee will be chaired by the Rt. Hon. Sir Donnell Deeny, chairman of the U.K. government’s Spoliation Advisory Panel and member of the Court of Arbitration for Art in The Hague. The members of the Advisory Committee are:

  • Lynn Scarff, Director of the NMI
  • Audrey Whitty, Board member of the Irish Museums Association and Director of the NLI
  • Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council
  • Patricia O’Hare, Board member of the Heritage Council
  • Oliver Sears, Gallery Owner
  • Chanté St. Clair Inglis, Head of Collections at the National Museum of Scotland
  • Judge Kerida Naidoo
  • Jane Ohlmeyer, Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin
  • Mary O’Dowd, Member of the Royal Irish Academy
  • Mary Philomena Mullen, Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin
  • Séan Kirwan, Senior Archaeologist, National Monuments Service
  • John Kelly, Principal Officer, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

The Heritage Council, the statutory body with responsibility to propose policies relating to heritage objects as well as responsibility for the Museum Standards Programme of Ireland, will serve as the secretariat for the committee.