Accusations fly over Galloway Hoard

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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 confirmed what arrangements will be made for displaying part of the hoard.

Colin Smyth criticised Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop last week for failing to deliver on a promise to hold a “summit” to thrash out a deal.

The MSP alleges a date was set last August but was cancelled by the Scottish Government and no new date has been arranged.

Speaking during Culture Questions Mr Smyth asked MsHyslop: “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. Although a date was set, it was cancelled by the cabinet secretary. Nine months later, she said 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 weeks.”

Commenting after the exchange Mr Smyth added: “It is deeply disappointing that the Scottish Government are dragging their heels over the hoard being displayed in Galloway. National Museums Scotland promised there would be a significant display, yet with the 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 her pledge. She even falsely claims the summit was cancelled by others when I have copies of correspondence from her office cancelling the event.”

Culture Secretary Ms Hyslop responded: “I can understand people are disappointed that negotiations have not resolved this issue. My offer to host a summit between Dumfries and Galloway Council and the National Museum of Scotland was deferred by mutual consent while negotiations continued and I am conscious that the council has not accepted the proposal put forward, despite its own official advice recommending it.

“I am very keen to break this impasse and I will discuss it with the committee convenor when we meet in the coming weeks. I hope an agreement can be reached quickly so that the refurbished Kirkcudbright Art Gallery can display the Galloway Hoard.”