Artists remove works from National Gallery of Ireland after coffee deal awarded to direct food supplier

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Two artists have removed their works from the National Gallery in Dublin in protest at the award of a coffee contract to Aramark and are pledging to stage a protest on Friday.

It was recently confirmed that the multinational company had been contracted to run the gallery cafe following a tender.

Aramark, which also owns retailer Avoca, has proven controversial for its role in running catering services at several direct supply centers.

National Gallery staff expressed concern and frustration over the awarding of the contract to the company.

Artist Brain Teeling and fellow artist Emma Roche have removed their works from the gallery.

Speaking on RTE’s Drivetime tonight, Mr Teeling said he read an article online about the catering contract awarded to Aramark and asked for his portrait to be taken down.

He said: “The reason we’re opposed to this is because Aramark is one of the major benefactors of government policy which is the direct supply and the people who live in those circumstances, it’s odious. And I actually consider that to be a dark stain on Ireland.”

Mr Teeling described how the exhibition of his work at the National Gallery of Ireland is “a very big deal” for a working-class artist.

He said: “But it’s more important to show solidarity with people who are experiencing leadership delivery.”

Mr Teeling’s portrait is of Declan Flynn, who was killed in a homophobic attack in Dublin’s Fairview Park in the early hours of September 10, 1982.

Asked about a protest outside the National Gallery on Friday, Mr Teeling said: ‘Any protest against the direct supply structure is valid in my book and I hope with this protest it will get people zooming in back and to consider the direct supply as a whole as well as the administrative services involved for the award of the call for tenders.

The planned protest will take place outside the National Gallery on Friday.

In a statement on Monday, the National Gallery defended the decision to award the contract to Aramark.

They said: “As a public sector organisation, the Gallery is bound by Irish and European public procurement law as to how external suppliers tender and are awarded contracts.

“Aramark was awarded the contract following the competitive bidding process as it achieved the highest score on the prescribed evaluation criteria.

“The Gallery is satisfied that the evaluation process went well and that the contract was awarded in accordance with the procurement rules.”

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