11 March 2006

1916 artifacts sale ‘a scandal’

Daily Ireland


A planned auction of historical documents and artifacts associated with the 1916 Rising has been described as a “scandal” by an opposition politician.
Adam's the auction house is co-hosting the sale of important Irish historical artifacts in Easter week, including the original words and music of the Irish national anthem.
Adam’s is offering clients the first opportunity to view and bid online live for any lot being sold in the sale-room by logging on to www.liveauctioneers.com or www.eBay.com.
“In our business, clients come first and this new bidding system is designed with them in mind to ensure they don’t miss an opportunity with any of our sales,” said Eamon O’ Connor, associate director of James Adam & Sons.
“Adam’s believes on-line live bidding will be of particular value at the forthcoming sale of important Irish historical artifacts, the ‘Independence Sale’, that is certain to attract a global audience on 12th April, as well as internationally popular Irish art and Irish furniture auctions throughout the year.”
However, this Independence Sale has provoked strong opposition from Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Mr Ó Snodaigh said it was a scandal that there was a plan to sell-off some of the last letters of executed signatories of the Proclamation.
Also included are manuscripts of Pádraig Pearse and Thomas MacDonagh, a handwritten copy of the National Anthem by its author Peadar Ó Cearnaigh, a tricolour believed to have flown from the GPO in 1916 and Michael Collins's typewriter, “among other unique historical items”.
“It is scandalous that these priceless historical documents and other irreplaceable parts of our national heritage are to be auctioned off to become the private prestige property of wealthy individuals,” said Mr Ó Snodaigh.
“There is nothing to stop these items being taken out of the country.
“To add insult to injury, the auction firms are promoting this sale by linking it to the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
“The government should immediately intervene with emergency legislation to prevent this sell-out of our heritage.
“Successive governments have failed to put in place legislation to protect heritage items from market forces.
“If anything, it should spur long-overdue action.
“For any government to allow these items to be auctioned in this way makes a mockery of our reputation for cherishing our history and culture, something that is touted around the world as one of the main reasons for people to visit Ireland.
“The state has the legal authority to declare an historical site a national monument.
“It also has the power to issue compulsory purchase orders on lands in certain circumstances.
“Similar powers should be put in place for historical items such as those about to be sold off,” Mr Ó Snodaigh said.

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