A Lost Opportunity

Traditional Arts Report a Flawed Document

By Micheál Ó hEidhin and Úna Ó Murchú

In response to media reports and enquiries, we (Micheál Ó hEidhin and Úna Ó Murchú) wish to clarify a number of matters relating to the report of the Special Committee on the Traditional Arts. We are taking this step in order to protect our personal integrity and to enable the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, who established the Special Committee, and the public, to be fully informed on matters relating to the Special Committee.

The Special Committee, set up under Section 21 of the Arts Act 2003, held its final meeting on the 13th July 2004. At this meeting two members of the committee supported by the Chairman agreed in full the main or Majority Report.

Two members (Micheál Ó hEidhin and Úna Ó Murchú) were unable to support certain significant recommendations of the Majority Report and indicated they would prepare a Minority Report to accompany the Majority Report.

Their Minority Report was delivered to the Arts Council within the timeframe specified in the terms of reference of the Special Committee. However, the Majority Report circulated for the Arts Council meeting on 1st September 2004 was not the version agreed at the final meeting of the Special Committee. The circulated Majority Report had been altered significantly. Although the Arts Council has been asked to explain:

  1. who made these changes
  2. who authorised them
  3. why the changes were made

to date we have failed to obtain full and satisfactory answers to the questions.

The alterations in question took place outside of the Special Committee as it hel no further meetings after 13th July. However, the altered version of the Majority Report presented to the Council states on page 29, that this report was formally approved on Tuesday 13th July 2004 by 2 members and the chairman.

The Arts Council was made aware before its meeting in September that the Majority Report, which it received, was not the version agreed by the Special Committee on 13th July. However, according to its own press release, the Council has accepted the recommendations of the (altered) Majority Report and will present it to the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism on Tuesday 28th September.

The Minority Report submitted by Micheál Ó hEidhin and Úna Ó Murchú engaged the services of independent consultants, CHL Consulting. Micheál Ó hEidhin and Úna Ó Murchú recommend that any person who wishes to have a full understanding of the deliberations of the Special Committee should read both the Minority Report and the Majority Report signed off on 13th July 2004.