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The government is being strongly criticised for not buying Padraig Pearse's 1916 surrender letter

Gerry Adams has called it a “quite frankly bizarre decision”.

GERRY ADAMS HAS urged the government to strongly reconsider its decision not to purchase revolutionary leader Padraig Pearse’s final letter of surrender, written at the end of the Easter Rising in 1916.

Adams has written to Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, urging both the Taoiseach and herself to seek out the mechanisms by which the letter may be purchased by the State.

The government has said that the letter would “not be the best use of taxpayer’s money”.

27/9/2016. Padraig Pearse Letters Pearse's final surrender letter Source: RollingNews.ie

The letter could leave Ireland following an auction set to take place next month, with a guide price for the document set between €1 million and €1.5 million.

The auctioneer, Stuart Cole, told TheJournal.ie that there was considerable American interest in purchasing Pearse’s letter, and that one potential buyer had already sought an export license for document.

Cole also pointed out that he had spent several months in contact with the government and the National Library, but could not persuade them to purchase the letter.

A spokesperson for the Department of Arts told TheJournal.ie that, following consultation with a number of “national cultural institutions”, it was the “shared view that the amount being sought for this one letter, in the order of €1.5 million, would not be the best use of taxpayer’s money.”

Adams, however, strongly criticised this stance.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

It is a quite frankly bizarre decision, particularly so in the centenary year of the 1916 Rising, for an Irish government to again pass up the opportunity to acquire a document of such historical import and significance.

“Everyone appreciates that State funds are not unlimited, but equally citizens will be perplexed at the continuing policy of the government of placing a price tag on our heritage and our history.”

The letter reads:

In order to prevent further slaughter of the civil population and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, the members of the Provisional Government present at headquarters have decided on an unconditional surrender, and commandants or officers commanding districts will order their commands to lay down arms. PH Pearse, Dublin, 30th April 1916.

Pearse was executed at Kilmainham Jail by British forces just three days later on 3 May 1916.

The letter was last sold in 2005. The auctioneer added that, at the time, the owner of the letter offered it to the National Library for €50,000. Their counter offer of €10,000 was turned down, and the letter then sold for €800,000 at auction.

Read: Pearse 1916 surrender letter “could leave Ireland” after upcoming auction

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Sean Murray

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