Two artists have pulled their artworks from the National Gallery in Dublin in protest over the awarding of a catering contract to Aramark.
It was recently confirmed that the multi-national firm had been contracted to run the gallery's café following a tendering process.
Aramark - which also owns the retailer Avoca - has proven controversial for their role in running food services in several direct provision centres.
Campaigners such as MASI have long raised concerns about the quality of the services provided in direct provision, while Aramark's previous presence as caterers in the likes of Trinity College had led to student protests and boycotts.
Aramark has defended the quality of its services in three direct provision centres and has insisted overall direct provision policy is a matter for the Irish Government.
A spokesperson told The Irish Times that the company provides "the highest level of service to those living in the accommodation centres we operate, as well as to the State".
However, staff at the National Gallery have voiced their concern and frustration over the contract being awarded to the company.
Emma Roche - whose work was being shown as part of the current Zurich Portrait Prize exhibit - had initially joined four of her fellow artists in emailing the gallery voicing their concerns about the situation.
They called direct provision "the greatest failing of our government today" and argued that "those who profit from it and support it should have no place" at the gallery.
However, Ms Roche and her fellow artist Brian Teeling have now pulled their work from the gallery after being unsatisfied with the response they received from gallery management.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Ms Roche said: “It was really the response from management and the director that made me want to remove my work. It was a very generic email.
“It felt like we didn’t have much of a choice other than to remove the work if we wanted to make any kind of point in support of people living in direct provision."
Ms Roche claimed that the decision to award the contract to Aramark goes "against all the work" staff there have done to support people living in direct provision and to make the gallery a more inclusive space.
She said removing work is "really a big deal" for artists, but this is something she felt very strongly about.
She said she would question the criteria under which the catering bids were assessed, adding it's "not good enough" for the gallery to risk their reputation in this way.
National Gallery statement
In a statement yesterday, the National Gallery defended the decision to award the contract to Aramark.
Statement on the recently awarded contract for the Gallery café:https://t.co/wupNIbohn8
— National Gallery of Ireland (@NGIreland) February 21, 2022
They said: "As a public sector organisation, the Gallery is bound by Irish and EU procurement law as to how external suppliers tender for, and are awarded, contracts.
"Aramark was awarded the contract following the tender process, as it scored highest on the prescribed assessment criteria.
"The Gallery is satisfied that the evaluation process was run correctly, and the contract awarded in line with procurement rules."
However, their statement received fresh criticism from activists and artists.