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GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF DRAGGING HEELS OVER GALLOWAY HOARD

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the Scottish Government of dragging its heels over a deal to display part of the Galloway Hoard at the new Kirkcudbright Art Gallery.

Although the gallery is due to open in the next few months, neither the Scottish Government or the National Museums for Scotland have yet confirmed what arrangements will be made for the display of part of the hoard.

In the Scottish Parliament last week Colin Smyth criticised Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop for failing to deliver on a promise made to the MSP over a year ago to hold a “summit” to thrash out a deal. A date was set for the summit last August but was cancelled by the Scottish Government and no new date has yet been arranged.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament during Culture Questions Colin Smyth asked Fiona Hyslop, “When I raised this issue with the cabinet secretary last June, she informed Parliament that she would host a summit involving National Museums Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Council in order to broker an agreement on displaying the hoard in the region. Although a date for the summit was set, it was cancelled by the cabinet secretary. Nine months later, she said that there would be a meeting, but there is still no date for it, despite the fact that Kirkcudbright art gallery is due to open in the next few weeks.

“Does the cabinet secretary acknowledge the huge frustration felt in Dumfries and Galloway that a major tourism opportunity for the region is being missed because of the current impasse between National Museums Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Council, in particular the barriers that are being put in place by NMS? Moreover, will she urgently intervene to ensure that we have a significant exhibition in Dumfries and Galloway sooner rather than later?”

Commenting after the exchange in Parliament Colin Smyth added, “It is deeply disappointing that the Scottish Government are dragging their heels over the issue of the hoard being displayed in Galloway. We know the full hoard won’t be permanently displayed at Kirkcudbright Art Gallery. However, National Museums Scotland promised there would be a significant display yet with the new Kirkcudbright Art Gallery scheduled to open soon, we are no further forward.

The Culture Secretary personally promised to hold a summit to thrash out a deal and having cancelled it, she has broken a pledge she made in Parliament. She even falsely claims the summit was cancelled by others when I have copies of correspondence from her office cancelling the event at their request and nobody else. 

This is an opportunity to establish a world class display for these artefacts within the region they were found, providing a huge boast to the local economy. The Government need to intervene urgently and ensure a deal is agreed sooner rather than later.”

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