A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today by the Houses of the Oireachtas and the board of the National Museum of Ireland confirming the temporary relocation of the Seanad to the Museum's Ceramics Room.

The Seanad chamber will move to the museum on Kildare Street next September while a multi-million euro refurbishment project is carried out on Leinster House.

The decision to relocate to the Museum has been a controversial one attracting strong opposition.

During a media briefing on the refurbishment today Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said the Houses of the Oireachtas "appreciate that the identification of the National Museum, and the subsequent efforts made, have been hugely difficult, traumatic"  for the staff of the National Museum of Ireland.

He said: "The historic nature of the relationships between the Oireachtas and museum has been such that staff and board members, I think, would have felt with some justification that this was an attempt by the Oireachtas to smash and grab."

He continued that they may have believed the Oireachtas "was intent upon a campaign of getting access to the space, that we would hold onto it and leave the museum severely disadvantaged".

Chairperson of the National Museum of Ireland, Catherine Heaney, said the memorandum signed today assures the Board that the room will be returned once refurbishment has been completed.

She said the agreement also gives assurances around legacy work that the museum will benefit from in the long term.

The Seanad is expected to sit in the Ceramic Room in the museum after the summer recess next year until the end of 2018 when the refurbishment is expected to be completed.

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