Office of Public Works refuses to answer questions regarding missing art works

I received a second reply from the Office of Public Works (OPW) Press Office in response to my list of questions regarding the art works missing from Leinster House.

It was pretty much like the first reply, that is, a general overview of what the office does but no answers to my questions.

I rang the OPW Press Office and spoke to the official who sent the email.

She informed me that the information they possess is only as good as they get from OPW officials. She very kindly agreed to re-submit my questions to OPW officials.

I received an email from an OPW official (through the Press Office) effectively telling me to take a hike. My questions were not going to be answered.

Both emails are reproduced below.

Good afternoon Mr. Sheridan,

I refer to your email. Please see response below:

The OPW Art Management Office manages the State Art Collection.

As you are aware it is currently undertaking a major inventory project and is therefore not in a position to confirm any works as being unaccounted for.

The inventory involves photographing and cataloguing art works and decorative objects in the State Art Collection that are located in many State properties.

Leinster House is one of these properties. There are over 700 art works catalogued on the OPW art database under the location of the Houses of the Oireachtas complex (which includes all buildings).

OPW does not release inventory details while the project is ongoing.

Please note that within the buildings in the Leinster House complex, there are: 365 prints, 290 paintings, 24 sculptures, 21 drawings, 14 photographs, 6 reproductions and 4 textiles.

There are works by important Irish artists such as Leo Whelan, Seán O’Sullivan, Maurice McGonigal, Patrick Hickey and Tom Ryan on display alongside numerous works such as James Hanley, Sonja Landweer, Mary Fitzgerald, Stephen Vaughan and Cora Cummins.

OPW Art Management Office continue to work closely with Leinster House staff re the State Art Collection and it is expected the inventory will be completed within the next 3 – 4 weeks.


Good afternoon Mr. Sheridan,

I refer to our telephone conversation. As agreed, I reverted to the Art Management Section in OPW. Please see response below.

“The OPW Art Management Office is currently engaged in the inventory check in Leinster House.

The Office is aware that the art works located in Leinster House are the property of the State and take this inventory review very seriously.

Staff are now working on this project in co-operation with staff from Leinster House.

It is not possible to present information on the inventory at present as it is in progress and the results are not yet complete.

As the collection is a circulating one, it is general policy for collection management purposes not to release precise locations of art works as these works move from location to location and information tends to date quickly.

It is also policy not to release detailed information on locations for security reasons.

Please assure Mr Sheridan that the OPW is completely focused on this inventory. We are being supported in this endeavour by the staff in Leinster House.

Please advise Mr. Sheridan also that his interest is appreciated but it is not possible to release such details while we are working on the inventory”.
I hope this clarifies the matter.