It has been reported that thirty-seven pieces of state-owned artwork are missing or “unaccounted for” from within Leinster House.
A spokesman for the Office of Public Works (OPW), who is responsible for the safekeeping of such items, made the following response.
We don’t have the resources to constantly keep a track of where things go.
Often, when staff move offices, they take artwork they like with them and this poses great difficulty to the OPW and management staff in Leinster House to keep a track on them.
Given the size of the collection under the auspices of the OPW, it is impossible to know where everything is all of the time.
This response indicates a complete abdication of responsibility for valuable state/citizen owned property.
In effect, this spokesman is extending an open invitation to any thieving official, politician or member of the public to steal at will.
While serving in the Naval Service I was appointed as a storeman for a number of years. I had absolutely no training for the job and was given just one assistant.
We were charged with keeping track of items ranging from radio equipment on several ships, bedding, lockers and other equipment in three billets, thousands of items in stores and a large volume of arms and ammunition.
When something went missing it was usually noticed quickly and acted upon immediately.
The claim by the OPW official that it is impossible to know where everything is all the time is complete rubbish.
These art items went missing from Leinster House, presumably from offices and public areas like halls and stairs.
The standard method of keeping track of such items is simple and effective.
An inventory of all items in any particular office is typed up, signed by the politician/official responsible for that office and displayed on the wall for all to see and inspect.
When that politician/official is vacating office they simply ask their successor to check that all items on the list are present and take responsibility by signing the inventory.
All inventories are independently checked on a regular basis to make sure all is in order.
The system is simple, effective and easily operated.
I phoned the OPW to ask some questions regarding the missing items and, as usual, was referred to the Press Office who asked me to put my queries in writing.
Re our phone conversation today regarding the missing pieces of art from Leinster House.
What are the name, position and rank of the person/s responsible for the safe keeping of the missing items?
What action has been taken in response to the missing items?
In particular, what action has been taken in respect of items that went missing prior to the last general election?
What is the overall time period in which the items went missing?
Please supply a list of the estimated value of each missing item
Please supply a list of the exact offices/locations from which items went missing
Please supply a list of the officials/politicians who occupied offices from which items went missing.
Please confirm or otherwise if members of the public are entitled to speak directly to OPW officials regarding this matter.