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Portraits of tainted taoisigh 'should be removed from Leinster House' - senator

James Heffernan says the public gallery, which forms part of tours, should not feature portraits of disgraced politicians.

James Hanley's €10,000 portrait of Bertie Ahern, which was hung in Leinster House last year.
James Hanley's €10,000 portrait of Bertie Ahern, which was hung in Leinster House last year.
Image: Office of Public Works

A LABOUR SENATOR has called on Leinster House authorities to consider removing the portraits of former taoisigh who have been implicated in the reports of various Tribunals.

James Heffernan says the portraits, which hang in the public gallery of Leinster House, should be removed so as not to be seen as an endorsement of their abuse of power and privilege.

“When I got into politics I did so because I had studied and admired politicians who worked for the betterment and benefit of their fellow citizens and indeed society in general,” the Limerick-based senator said this evening.

“To have those who have been found culpable of corruption, abuse of power and privilege and of perjury, smiling down on all those who walk past them is not the kind of message that we need to give to those who visit Leinster House.”

The calls follow clamour from government TDs and MEPs to withdraw pension entitlements from former office holders who are connected with inappropriate behaviour in the Beef, McCracken, Moriarty and Mahon tribunals.

While Heffernan said he supported stripping those pensions, doing so would probably require elaborate legislation which might take considerable time to implement – and that removing their portraits would be a meaningful interim measure.

“I think that it would be a strong symbolic message to send out if the offending portraits were removed from their prestigious position in Leinster House,” he said.

The Leinster House portrait of Bertie Ahern, painted by James Hanley and costing the taxpayer €10,000, was hung earlier this year. Oireachtas convention dictates that the portraits of former taoisigh are not displayed until they have left the Dáil.

Read: Portrait of Bertie Ahern to finally get its place in Leinster House

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Gavan Reilly

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