Monday, 27 August 2012

Threat to Chester Beatty Library- published in The Irish World

The Chester Beatty Library near Dublin Castle could again be the target of some cunning thievery.

Two men were seen last week entering the city’s sewerage system through a manhole on Little Ship Street.

The location of the curious incident has caused concern for the safety of some of the capital’s most important buildings and their possessions.

The Chester Beatty Library, which is housed in the clock tower of Dublin Castle, is believed to be the most likely target as it houses one of the rarest collections of rhino horns in Europe.

These treasured items, worth around €50 million, have become a huge target among the criminal world sparking a string of thefts throughout Europe.

Some believe an Irish gang to be responsible for these crimes as last week’s incident has put Dublin city council and An Garda Siochana on high alert.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn, had already raised the issue of substantial risk to the collection when noticing the rise in global criminal activity in relation to rhino horns.

Speaking to The Irish World he said:” It’s becoming very obvious that art objects are becoming much more prized and there’s currency for this and we just need to be much vigilant in every sense of the word.

In relation to the motives of the two men, Councillor Flynn said:” It would be my firm belief that they were targeting the Chester Beatty Library.”

“The close proximity of this particular entrance and the underground sewerage system is just too uncanny for me.”

“Irish galleries, Irish collections and Irish museums need to be watched.”

Councillor Flynn added that this is not the first times thieves may have used the city’s underground systems to gain illegal access as around €40k was recently stolen from the Old Ormond Hotel when thieves tunnelled through the basement and walls.

“It’s a vast subterranial world down there, built by the Victorians, its huge, and it would be a difficult area to police but more and more criminals are using these areas to gain access.”

If these suspicious characters were indeed targeting the museum and its collection, this will not be the first time it has been the target of criminal intent.

The museum’s former Islamic curator, David James, stole hundreds of priceless ancient manuscripts from their collection back in the nineties, spawning one of Ireland’s most notorious insider thefts.

Buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty was an avid collector of rare manuscripts and treasures, he donated his collection to both Dublin Castle and to London’s British Museum.

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