Written Answers. - National Monuments.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

501 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a formal notice pursuant to section 21 of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act 1963, as amended, relating to a draft variation of the development plan for the Borough of Sligo was received by Dúchas - The Heritage Service - on 25 September 2000 (details supplied); if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that Dúchas failed to make any objection or representation regarding the draft variation, in the period for making submissions; if she will instigate an investigation to ascertain the reason the national monuments and architectural protection division of Dúchas failed to make a submission in the period in question in view of the fact that experts in her Department have said that the proposed rezoning of the lands in question will clearly have archaeological implications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8062/01]

I am aware that my Department in September 2000 received a formal notice relating to the rezoning of the lands in question, and that the deadline for submissions relating to this was 22 December. Officials in my Department in early December prepared a formal response to this notice recommending that an archaeological assessment be undertaken in advance of any decision to proceed with the rezoning. However, this response was not issued to Sligo Corporation due to an administrative oversight. When this omission was discovered, an official from Dúchas, the Heritage Service of my Department, contacted the corporation last month to see if the rezoning issue had been decided upon and was informed that it was listed for discussion at the next meeting of the corporation, which was scheduled for 5 March. At that stage, a request was made to the corporation to accept a late submission. While the corporation official agreed to include the late submission, he did point out that, as the submission was outside the time limit, he could not guarantee that the Corporation would consider it at their meeting. However, as a result of the foot and mouth restrictions, this meeting was cancelled and the rezoning issue will now be discussed at the April meeting. My understanding is that the comments raised by my officials regarding the rezoning issue will be considered at this meeting.