Heritage Bill, 1994 [Seanad Bill amended by the Dáil]: Report and Final Stages.

I welcome the Minister to the House. This is a Seanad Bill which has been amended by the Dáil. In accordance with Standing Order 82, it is deemed to have passed its First. Second and Third Stages in the Seanad and is placed on the Order Paper for Report Stage. On the question "That the Bill be received for final consideration", the Minister may explain the purpose of the amendments made by the Dáil and this is looked upon as the report of the Dáil amendments to the Seanad. The only matter, therefore, that may be discussed is the amendments made by the Dáil.

For the convenience of the Senators I have arranged for the printing and circulation to them of those amendments.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be received for final consideration."

As Members are aware, they may speak only once on this question.

Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh. Tá áthas orm a bheith ar ais libh anseo. Baineann na leasuithe atá i gceist anseo le leasuithe a deineadh sa Dáil ar Bille a tógadh sa Seanad.

There are 16 amendments in my name and one, amendment No. 12, in the name of Deputy Quill. I propose to group amendments where they are related to each other. While virtually all the amendments are in my name, many of them arise either from promises made by me in this House or from amendments tabled by Deputy Quill on Committee Stage in the Dáil to which I responded by tabling my own wording on Report Stage in that House.

I will first take amendments Nos. 1. 13 and 17. These amendments are related and deal with the placing of the performance of heritage functions of the Commissioners of Public Works under the supervision and direction of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Amendment No. 13 inserts a new section — section 24 — in the Bill to provide that the functions of the Commissioners of Public Works under specified enactments in relation to the national heritage will be performed by them subject to the supervision and directions of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. This gives effect to the commitment in the policy agreement for Government of December 1994, entitled A Government of Renewal, that the Heritage Council Bill would be amended to provide that “the policy functions of the Commissioners of Public Works under legislation relating to the heritage, shall be performed by them subject to the general directions in writing of the Minister for Arts. Culture and the Gaeltacht”. The situation has existed since February 1993, as Senators will be aware, that policy formulation for heritage matters has been my responsibility. It is very desirable that this principle should now be embodied in legislation.

Amendments Nos. 1 and 17 are consequential amendments and take account of the fact that the Bill will not be dealing solely with the Heritage Council but also, under the proposed new section 24, with the heritage functions of the Office of Public Works. Amendment No. 1 amends the Short Title of the Act in section 1 from the "Heritage Council Act, 1994", to the "Heritage Act, 1995". Amendment No. 17 amends the Long Title of the Bill to reflect the provisions of the new section 24 inserted by amendment No. 13.

Amendments Nos. 2, 4, 7 and 16 are related. They insert a definition of "architectural heritage" and provide for the mandatory establishment by the Heritage Council of two additional standing committees, one on architectural heritage and the other on inland waterways. This is in furtherance of an undertaking given by me in this House.

Amendment No. 2 inserts in section 2 (1) a definition of "architectural heritage". This definition replaces the definition of "works of architecture" in that section which, under amendment No. 4 has been deleted. The definition of "architectural heritage" is based on the definition of "architectural heritage" contained in the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe, which this country signed in 1985 in Granada, Spain, and which we are currently preparing to ratify.

Amendment No. 7 substitutes "architectural heritage" for "works of architecture" in the definition of national heritage in section 6 (1) which sets out the functions of the council in relation to the national heritage. Amendment No. 16 amends paragraph 9 (2) of the Schedule — which already provides for the mandatory establishment by the council of standing committees on wildlife and archaeology — to provide for the mandatory establishment by the council of two additional standing committees, one on architectural heritage and the other on inland waterways. "Inland waterways" is defined in section 2 (1). This fulfils a commitment given by me to this House on Committee Stage.

Amendment No. 3 includes a specific reference to genealogical records in the definition of "heritage objects" in section 2 (1). I brought forward this amendment in response to points raised in this House and in the Dáil, and in response to representations received by me from genealogical societies.

Amendments Nos. 5, 6, 10 and 11 are related. They empower the council to acquire, accept gifts of, hold and dispose of land, including buildings. They give effect to the commitment contained in the policy agreement for Government of December 1994, entitled A Government of Renewal, to amend the Heritage Council Bill to enable the council to own land and buildings.

Amendment No. 5 provides in section 5 (3) that the council may acquire, hold and dispose of land, including buildings. Amendment No. 11 removes the prohibition in section 12 (2) on the acceptance by the council of gifts of land and buildings. The power to acquire whether by way of purchase or gift, hold and dispose of land and buildings is a standard provision in legislation setting up similar statutory corporate bodies such as the Arts Council, Bord na Gaeilge and An Bord Glas.

Amendments Nos. 6 and No. 10 provide in sections 5 (4) and 12 (1), respectively, that these powers of acquisition, etc., will be exercised by the council subject to any directions the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, in consultation with the Minister for Finance, may decide to give. While I do not wish to anticipate any such directions. I see this power being used by the council to acquire its own premises and I do not see it becoming involved in the routine acquisition of heritage properties. In any event the council will be restricted by the limits of its financial allocations.

Amendments No. 8 and No. 9 were introduced in response to amendments proposed by Deputy Quill during the Dáil Committee Stage debate. They amend section 6 of the Bill — which sets out the functions of the council — to provide that the council will promote heritage education and, in carrying our its functions, co-operate with educational bodies. It can be pro-active in education matters.

I believe the study of heritage should be included in the schools curriculum both because of its intrinsic importance and as a contribution to the protection and preservation of our heritage. The National Heritage Council can play a valuable role in promoting heritage education.

Amendment No. 8 amends section 6 (3) (a) to include among the functions of the council the promotion of education in relation to the national heritage. Amendment No. 9 amends section 6 (3) (b) to include in the council's functions co-operation with educational bodies in the promotion of the council's functions. The functions of the council under section 6 include proposing policies and priorities for the identification, protection and preservation of the national heritage and promoting interest in and appreciation of that heritage.

Amendment No. 12 was proposed by Deputy Quill. It amends section 21 (2) by providing that the council shall, not later than six months after the end of each financial year, submit its accounts to the Comptroller and Auditor General for audit. Under this section a copy of the Comptroller and Auditor General's audit report, together with a copy of the accounts, must subsequently be presented to the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht who will be obliged to lay them before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Amendment No. 14 provides in paragraph 1 (1) of the Schedule that in addition to a chairperson the council will consist of a minimum number of 14 ordinary council members. This is a technical amendment which removes a potential anomaly. Prior to amendment, paragraph 1 (1) of the Schedule provided for a maximum number of 16 but no specific minimum number of ordinary council members in addition to a chairperson, whereas paragraph 2 (1) of the Schedule, which is a gender balance provision, assumes the council will have a total membership of at least 14 as it provides for the appointment of seven men and seven women.

Amendment No. 15 amends paragraph 6 (5) of the Schedule to provide that the council may continue to act. notwithstanding vacancies in its membership which will include vacancies resulting in the gender balance requirements of paragraph 2 (1) of the Schedule not being complied with — that is. vacancies resulting in fewer than seven men and seven women being members of the council. This is to ensure that vacancies in council membership resulting in a breach of these gender balance requirements will not prevent the council from acting, pending the filling of such vacancies in accordance with the legislation. This amendment is similar to the provision in section 10 (5) of the Broadcasting Authority Act, 1960 inserted by me through section 7 (1) (b) of the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1993.

On a point of order, can we speak separately on each amendment or are they all taken together?

As I explained, there shall be one contribution from each Senator. You may deal with the amendments as you think fit.

Can one speak on each amendment once?

Yes, but in the one contribution.

We cannot speak to each individual amendment?

You may in one speech but you may only speak once on Report Stage, unlike Committee Stage. You may deal with the contents of the amendments as I have explained.

When the Bill was first debated here I made the point that in the break up of responsibilities, both at ministerial level and in legislative terms, there was not a clear overall policy approach on heritage. In my view, this amendment will help to achieve that. My fear was that the division of responsibility for heritage matters between separate Ministers and the lack of clarity as to who had legislative responsibility for these complex matters would lead to fragmentation and an absence of a clear Government policy in this area. This was damaging to heritage matters and was certainly likely to lead to different views on how they should be approached. These amendments will go some way towards defining the lines of demarcation and clarifying who has overall responsibility.

The role of the Commissioners of Public Works in the heritage area is being placed under the responsibility of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. I ask the Minister to clarify the role of the Commissioners of Public Works in relation to the Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for the Commissioners of Public Works. I also ask him to clarify how the relationship between the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht and the Minister of State with responsibility for the Commissioners of Public Works will work in relation to the overall development of heritage policy in the next number of years. I do not believe we will have comprehensive heritage legislation like this before the House again for quite a while.

I want to avail of the opportunity to disagree with the recent Government decision on Mullaghmore as put forward by the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. It appears to conflict with the views of the Minister of State with responsibility for western development and the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works. When we look at amendments such as these, we must also examine how the legislation will work in practice.

I have to say. although I am reluctant to do so, that I made the point very clearly that the only matters which may be discussed are the amendments made by the Dáil. That would not seem to be the case with regard to the matters to which you are now referring.

This is precisely the case. a Chathaoirligh. Under amendments Nos. 1, 13 and 17, the performance of heritage functions by the Commissioners of Public Works has been brought under the supervision and direction of the Minister for Arts. Culture and the Gaeltacht. Is that not correct?

Yes, that is correct, but the ruling is there.

In that regard, I take issue with a decision in a particular case — the Mullaghmore decision — which is relevant to this amendment. The Mullaghmore decision flies in the face of a few realities. The first is that the issue was before Clare County Council for a planning decision.

It is my understanding that, before this amendment was made, the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht gave a direction to the Commissioners of Public Works not to supply some basic, fundamental information required by Clare County Council to enable them to process the application. It was certainly widely reported and I do not think the Minister has denied that he, as Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, directed the Commissioners of Public Works, when he did not have the statutory authority to do so, to refrain from supplying some relevant information requested by Clare County Council to enable them to reach a conclusion on the Mullaghmore issue. The Minister might clarify if that is the situation. Did the Minister for Arts. Culture and the Gaeltacht, without the statutory responsibility being given to him under this amendment, direct the Office of Public Works not to supply the information which was requested by the county council to enable them to reach a conclusion on the planning application for Mullaghmore?

I find it extraordinary and inexplicable that a Minister would use the phrase "indecent haste" to describe the start of the Mullaghmore project. The Minister is well aware that the plan for a national park in Mullaghmore was initiated in the early 1970s and included the provision of an interpretative centre, which was not advanced for many years. It was accelerated in the 1980s and planning of the centre continued for nine or ten years before initial moves were made to undertake the project.

The Minister is fully aware that quite intense consultations took place in that period between the Commissioners of Public Works and the planning authority regarding the planning aspects of the development. Discussions took place over three or four years on a technical and administrative level between the Office of Public Works personnel and the engineering and technical advisers from the County Clare planning authority regarding the detail of the design and planning of the interpretative centre near Mullaghmore. For this reason, I am at a loss to understand why the Minister would say that undue haste was used in processing the project and commencing work on the site.

The Minister mentioned the last election on the radio today. However, both he and the Commissioners of Public Works were aware that the date for the commencement of the project had been set. The start of the project was planned well in advance, long before anybody had the remotest idea that there would be a snap election in 1992. The Minister of State at the time. Deputy Noel Treacy, who planned to commence the project was not in a position to do so on that particular date because the election intervened. He requested that I, as a Minister of State and a Deputy for County Clare at that time, carry out the sod turning ceremony.

It is totally misleading to suggest that the sod turning ceremony at Mullaghmore was designed as an election gimmick. This is not in accordance with the facts. Given that the Minister is fair minded and reasonable, I know he will accept this point. I hope he will take the opportunity to correct his statement, which created the impression that the sod turning ceremony was expedited for the sole purpose of the election.

The Minister is aware, given his knowledge of the area, that people would have preferred not to have this as an election issue. It caused some division in the local community because some parts of the Burren objected to the Mullaghmore project. By and large, it was not a decision which one would have wished to have as an election issue. It is misleading and inaccurate to suggest that the matter was expedited for the purpose of electioneering and I hope the Minister will take the opportunity to correct this point.

In relation to the functions of the Commissioners of Public Works and how this will work in practice, the confusion will continue if that body is fragmented. This confusion has brought about a certain amount of the controversy surrounding the Mullaghmore project. As I understand it, it is the Government's intention to let the Office of Public Works disintegrate. However, it would be unwise of the Government to fragment and dismantle the body. It would be a retrograde step and people who have the experience of dealing with the commissioners would be most disappointed. I am not certain whether the Minister has any plans in this regard but I ask him to explain how he can be effective in a situation where the responsibilities for this area are held by another Minister. Is it the intention at a later date to break up the Office of Public Works. to assign sections of it to his own Department and have other sections retained by the Minister for Finance? In my view, this will be resisted and would be an unwise decision.

The Office of Public Works has been established since before the foundation of the State. It has an extraordinary record of outstanding mention, which has been recognised not only nationally but also internationally. The Office of Public Works has won international awards for some of its work. To attempt to fragment the Office of Public Works and to assign various responsibilities to different Ministers would be a backward step and, rather than do that, it would be more advisable to take the opposite course of action and give full responsibility in some of these areas to the Minister with responsibility.

This applies not only to this Department but to many others. We have seen several instances here where Ministers have responsibility but do not have the statutory responsibility which is assigned to other Ministers. I would like clarification from the Minister, in his reply to this debate here, in relation to the whole heritage area, the areas that are covered under this Bill, which has been debated here and in the other House. What will the overall end result be when all the amendments are made? Will we see a more co-ordinated situation in relation to legislation, or will it be more fragmented? Will we see ministerial responsibility coinciding with legislative responsibilities so that we will not have Ministers responsible for legislation in an area which is the responsibility of other Ministers, with the resulting confusion that this kind of situation leads to?

Overall, I support the main thrust of the amendments; but I avail of this opportunity to question the unwise decision relative to this amendment which has been made by the Minister in going to Government to seek the abandonment of a project which has been well thought out, well planned, well discussed and which the vast majority of the local community in the areas that are affected by this development fully support. I outlined here on a previous occasion that the voluntary organisations — farming bodies, representatives of sporting organisations and cultural organisations, such as the Clare Archaeological and Historical Society — in the areas most immediately affected by the Mullaghmore development are totally in support of that development. They not only came out locally in support but came here and campaigned outside the gates of the House and outside the offices of the Office of Public Works to highlight the volume and sincerity of the public demand and support for this project.

This decision will have a damaging impact on the Burren as one of our most historic, scenic and attractive areas. The conservation and management of the Burren will be put backwards by at least ten years by the decision the Minister took yesterday. To postpone or abandon the scheme for Mullaghmore will have a permanent adverse impact on one of our most historic areas. It will damage the conservation and management prospects for the area and send the wrong signal to many people who have worked diligently there year after year, especially the local community. who have cared for the Burren region over the centuries. It sends out a message of despair. There is widespread dismay at this recent Government decision among the local community leaders in the area most immediately affected by it, including farming leaders, leaders of community sporting organisations, cultural associations and other societies.

We should use this opportunity to draw the Minister's attention to the ongoing need for the conservation and management of the Burren area. I fully support his proposals for a management plan for the region. The preparation and completion of such a management plan could take up to 20 years. If the Minister looks at our most important national park, the Killarney National Park, its management plan was published 25 years after the park was established. If we are to wait 25 years for a management and conservation policy for the Burren, irreparable damage will have been done and the care and consideration given by the local community for so long would be undermined.

The Minister should express an urgency about resolving this matter and the decision taken yesterday will not do so. A certain amount of work has been done which cannot be dismantled. No one, including the Minister, would like to see the site return to its former state as a disused gravel quarry. If the Government is to spend taxpayers' money digging up carefully developed car parks and other facilities to return a disused gravel quarry which might be used for dumping rubbish, that would be shortsighted on the Government's part.

I do not believe the Minister is shortsighted in this regard: he has the best interests of the region at heart but he has been ill advised by those who have told him there is widespread discontent about this project in County Clare and in the Burren region in particular. There is wholehearted support except in a small region which felt threatened by this development — that was Kilfenora. Nevertheless, the Minister could resolve that by indicating to Kilfenora through the Heritage Council that the necessary funding will he provided for the refurbishment and redevelopment of Kilfenora which could go hand in hand with the Mullaghmore development.

The Minister has gravely undermined Clare County Council. The Minister of State with responsibility for western development, Deputy Carey, was in this House a week ago and he was a member of Clare County Council when it discussed this matter and he said that Clare County Council had given the greatest consideration to this project at technical and official level. Yesterday's decision flies in the face of the county council's decision. Senator Taylor-Quinn is a member of the county council and she knows that the project was widely supported by the council; her party supported it; she and the Minister of State. Deputy Carey, supported it fully.

We attended packed halls in places such as Corofin when hundreds of people turned out from all over the Burren to demonstrate their support for this project. These were people who live in the area, who respect the area and wish to live there in the future. However, many of them see their future threatened by a decision such as this. We have seen the depletion of the population of the Burren area; in one area not far from Mullaghmore where there were up to 200 people on the electoral register when I was first elected in 1973. there are now none. The population of these areas has been devastated and there is now a total lack of hope in any prospect of the population returning.

The Minister and the Government have decided to halt and dismantle a project which was to bring enormous benefit in terms of conservation and development of jobs. At the same time the Minister with responsibility for western development is trying to create employment opportunities. This is a stark and clear conflict. The Minister of State, in the first test of his responsibility, failed to influence the Government so as to ensure that such projects. which would have beneficial impact on a community which has been devastated by unemployment and lack of opportunity, continue. This is one of the most scenic areas in Ireland, but its declining population will not be helped by the decision which was taken yesterday.

I am sure I am wasting my time asking the Minister to reconsider that decision. He said that in the management plan he would look at the area to see what can be done. I urge the Minister to work with speed on this matter. If we must wait for 25 years for a management plan for the Burren National Park area or the Burren area of north Clare, this Minister will have lost an opportunity to make an impact in dealing with problems in this area. We have seen the devastation which people in this area suffered this winter where houses were flooded, where land was under water and where property was been irreparably damaged. The response of the Government has been negative up to now.

While I support these amendments. I would like clarification from the Minister as to the overall effect they will have on the legislation and whether policy areas will be more clearly defined as a result of the amendments, in that one body will be responsible for the heritage area, will set down and implement national policy and will place heritage aspects of the economy in a legislative framework.

I appeal to the Minister to reconsider the Government's decision and consult with his colleagues in Fine Gael on the situation — in fact, he should consult with all of us. I would be willing to sit down with the Minister at a meeting with Members of the Oireachtas from County Clare to discuss where we should go from here in the light of the Government decision.

I ask the Minister to use his influence with his colleague, Deputy Kemmy, the Chairman of the Labour Party, to refrain form the hysterical statement which he has made about Mullaghmore and the effects expenditure has had Members of the Oireachtas from County Clare can deal with our own business in so far as heritage matters are concerned. I wish he would deal with matters in his constituency as capably as we deal with ours. When he was Lord Mayor of Limerick city and a Member of the Oireachtas, he allowed the desecration of King John's Castle, one of the finest historic buildings in the country. As I said in the House before, this medieval castle now has the appearance of ticket office in a roll-on/roll-off car ferry. A glass and steel contraption was constructed during Deputy Kemmy's reign of authority in Limerick Corporation.

Did it grow like a mushroom overnight? Was it not planned by the Fianna Fáil council beforehand?

Deputy Kemmy, who desecrated King John's Castle, is the last person who should come to County Clare to lecture us about how we should deal with matters like the Burren.

When we drain the Shannon we can bring boats up to the castle.

Senator Dardis would be familiar with the lower Shannon. Boats were tied at the castle 1,000 years ago and they can still sail up the river. There are plenty of boats on the lower Shannon thanks to the excellent maritime activities there.

I appeal to the Minister, even at this eleventh hour, to reverse the decision which was taken yesterday and to ask his colleague, Deputy Kemmy, to mind his own business and to dismantle the glass menagerie he built in King John's Castle in Limerick.

I welcome the Minister and the range of amendments he is introducing which have been accepted in the Dáil. These amendments are commendable and will add greatly to the Bill. They compact the detail of the Bill and make it more effective and all-inclusive. I welcome the amendment which replaces "architectural heritage" with "works of architecture". I am delighted that included in this definition are a wide range of areas which have been defined by the Council of Europe's convention on the protection of architectural heritage.

Once the legislation is passed there will he an onus on the Minister and his Department to get to work very quickly in identifying the wide variety of architectural structures and buildings which are covered by this section. Some of the buildings which could be included but are not currently included may be open to plunder if developers become aware of this section. There is a responsibility on the Minister to act quickly and to identify buildings and structures which have relevance under this section.

Amendment No. 2 "includes railways and related buildings and structures and any place comprising the remains or traces of any such railway, building or structure". This is particularly welcome. I am sorry this section was not in place years ago. The West Clare Railway was world famous. If this section had been in place years ago, we would have the remains of the old west Clare track and station. Unfortunately no trace of them remains. If their basic structure had remained and could be put back into operation, it could be a huge potential tourist attraction. It would also be useful for economic purposes. Given the condition of our roads, it would be very helpful if we had a railway through Clare rather than depending on the poor road network.

The Minister and the Government made a decision yesterday on the three interpretative centres. The Mullaghmore interpretative centre relates to the Burren, a very important national heritage which has unique landscape and topography and archaeological and historical monuments.

I welcome the announcement of the introduction of a management plan for the greater Burren area. This is a huge area which ranges from Gort to Corrofin to Lisdoonvarna to Fenore to Ballyvaughan and almost to New Quay. In deciding on a management plan for that area, many factors will have to be taken into consideration and a great deal of work will have to be done. This work will have to relate to the local authority and the county development plan.

In this plan we are very conscious of the asset of the Burren and particular consideration is given to development and planning applications relating to the Burren. Very serious discussions will have to take place between Clare County Council, the Department and the Office of Public Works on this management plan. The farming organisations will also have to be consulted extensively. Most of these lands are owned by farmers; some are operational, others are not. They will need to be consulted and discussions will have to take place. The public liability Bill going through the Oireachtas will have to be considered in relation to this overall management plan. There are difficulties with access and lack of access to land and historical monuments. Every aspect needs to be considered.

When announcing his decision the Minister stated that in the meantime partially constructed buildings are to be dismantled and the completed bus and car parks will be retained pending further consideration in light of the management plan. The Minister may be able to advise the House whether the planning application currently before Clare County Council in relation to the retention of these parks will remain. If planning permission is granted to retain them, will public toilet facilities be made available? Will the parks be available to the public for parking or will there be locked gates? It would be no harm if we could be given clarification of this. It may be too early for the Minister to give me a reply at this stage but as soon as he has information I would welcome his view on this.

The Supreme Court decided that all public authorities and Departments should apply for planning permission for any structures they wish to erect. We in Fine Gael have been promoting this for a long time. This decision to force the Office of Public Works to apply for planning permission was a good one. The fact that the Minister for the Marine agreed to apply for planning permission for Loran C is good. Having said that, I do not agree with the decision of An Bord Pleanála on this issue. I hope the Minister, now that he has made a decision on Mullaghmore, will help the Government to decide not to proceed with Loran C. This has no economic advantage to Clare. No benefits from a financial or tourism point of view will accrue from this. One could argue that this is not the case with Mullaghmore. There was money available for the completion of this development. I hope the Minster will be in a position to spend the remaining money in the Corofin-Kilfenora area.

That money is now gone.

I am sure the Minister will be in a position to reply.

The Senator should put her foot down and demand action.

This money should be available for the greater area. The management plan is very welcome but compiling and completing it could take considerable time. We have in Kilfenora a centre which is in need of development and refurbishment work. I appeal to the Minister to invest some of this money there. In Corofin we have a fantastic heritage centre, which could also do with additional funding and could be further developed. The Minister should ensure that the outstanding moneys are spent in this area.

Most of the amendments are technical, except for amendment No. 2 to section 2 which defines architectural heritage. I welcome these amendments which dramatically improve the legislation. The Minister has now made a decision in relation to all three interpretative centres and the onus is on everybody to go forward. Equally, there is a responsibility on all of us to respect and value our heritage, to treat it with the respect it deserves rather than abuse it. We must appreciate that in our national heritage we have a major asset of great value that is part of our traditions as well as being a part of what we are. This legislation will greatly enhance the preservation of that heritage.

I welcome the Minister to the House. I also welcome this Bill and the changes to it that have taken place since we last discussed it. A great number of those changes have overcome the problems that I had with the Bill. I had not realised that on this occasion we must cover all the amendments in one speech. I had assumed it was coming back on Committee Stage and so I will have to adjust my thinking on this.

Since becoming a Member of the Seanad I have looked at all Bills coming through this House — in areas that I felt I had not got a particular ability to comment on — to see how they conform to modern management practices. Having examined this Bill I am impressed and I am happy to congratulate the Minister on the changes and adaptations he has made, compared to what was in the Heritage Council Bill last year.

As Senator Daly has already mentioned, having one body with overall responsibility for heritage is good management practice. One difficulty though is the dual accountability — having two bosses — which is not good management practice, yet appears to exist in the Office of Public Works. Obviously, that cannot be easily solved either in this case or in management practice generally.

Taking that into account, the Bill is worthy of support for the changes the Minister has undertaken to protect our heritage from the point of view of accountability. Lately, I have been reading a book which I first read — though I am ashamed to say how old I am — back in the late 1950s. It is called Prosperity Through Competition by Ludwig Erhard, the man who built the financial success story of modern Germany after the war. In his book Erhard talked about the success of encouraging competition. I try to look on the many Bills which come through this House as though we are competitors in the market place and have to introduce good business management practice. This involves checking who the stakeholders are in any organisation, and in the case of our heritage there are two of them. The first is the taxpayer, every citizen who wishes to see our heritage preserved, protected and, wherever possible, enhanced for the future. The second stakeholder is the customer, not just our own citizens but those who envy the heritage that we have received from previous generations.

How well have we protected ourselves in this legislation? I think we have protected ourselves very well with regard to the customers. From the point of view of heritage the Minister has done a good job in protecting the assets of the State for those who are going to value, avail of and benefit from them. Looking to see if I could find any way of improving this Bill, I found that many steps in the right direction have already been taken in the amendments introduced by the Minister.

I have a number of changes to suggest in the area of introducing speed and urgency into the accountability reports of how the council and the heritage will be preserved. Because I am more ambitious than the Minister. I would seek a two-month period for accountability rather than the six months he suggests, although I am willing to negotiate on those limits. I accept that there has been a big improvement since the last time we looked at this Bill because of the introduction of time limits on reporting.

Section 21 (2) states that

Accounts kept in pursuance of this section shall, not later than six months after the end of the financial year of the Council to which they relate, be submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General for audit...

I suggest that the Minister should give serious consideration to reducing that period of six months. In modern business practice any business worth its while should be able to produce accounts much earlier than six months. I suggest a period of two months rather than six months, which, it seems to me, is letting off an organisation, particularly one such as a heritage council that is not in the competitive, commercial world and could produce accounts much earlier than six months.

In section 21 (2), line 25, after the first word "audit". I would like to see the following words substituted, "and such audit shall be completed by the Comptroller and Auditor General within two months of receipt of the accounts". The Minister should set standards that need to be set as an example to other bodies in this State. For a number of years I had the responsibility of being chairman of An Post.

I would say that the Senator is glad he is not there at the moment.

They are working hard on it.

In the old Department of Posts and Telegraphs. I discovered that the accounts were almost two years old, because they were part of a Department and there was no great urgency in those days. In An Post we set ourselves standards by trying to have the accounts for that first year published within three months. Part of our problem was that the Department to which we handed the accounts felt on occasion obliged to sit on them rather longer than we would have liked. We wanted to hand over the accounts to the Minister and publish them the same day. We were setting standards of three months for producing the accounts and that was not easily handled by the Department. However. I must congratulate them for having improved considerably over the past ten years. In general, standards are being improved.

Since being elected to this House I have looked at Bills to see if the number of months in which reports must be made can be reduced. In regard to section 21, when the council hands over its reports the Comptroller and Auditor General could sit on that audit for a long period of time, because the wording of the particular section does not give any limitation; it just says "and, immediately after the audit". Therefore, I urge the Minister to insert the words I have suggested.

I would also like to see the word "forthwith" inserted in section 21(2). line 31, so that that part of the section would read:

... shall be presented to the Minister who shall cause copies of the documents so presented to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas forthwith.

Each of those cases is an example of what I am trying to encourage the Minister to accept. They are three areas under section 21 which are in the direction the Minister has already shown willingness to go with the amendments which he accepted in the other House. Those amendments either introduced a time limit for reporting or reduced it to a reasonable time.

The changes I am urging the Minister to consider are to section 21: line 23 to replace "six months" with "one month", but I will agree to "two months"; line 25 after the words "for audit" to insert "and such audit shall be completed by the Comptroller and Auditor General within two months of receipt of the accounts" and line 31 after the word "Oireachtas" to insert the word "forthwith".

I recognise that the Minister has set an example and has taken steps in the right direction. I congratulate him on so doing and urge him to consider taking further steps as an example not just to those involved in heritage, but to those involved in all other State concerns which are able to say that this is the direction of the future and that they should urgently become more accountable.

I welcome the Minister to the House and thank him for taking on board many amendments, some of which were originally suggested in this House. If all Ministers were as open minded we would have a very fruitful time in this and the other House.

I welcome, in particular, the broadening of the scope of the Heritage Council to include the heritage aspect of the Office of Public Works. With regard to Senator Daly's attacks on my colleague Deputy Kemmy, his memory is slipping a little because the monstrosity to which he referred was planned and erected by the then Fianna Fáil controlled city council. It was merely opened by Deputy Kemmy; he did not build it.

I welcome the amendments to section 5 on a matter I raised, which was to give the Heritage Council the power to acquire, hold and dispose of land. However, it has not been asked to maintain its property. It would be an awful irony if the council was busy telling all other bodies how to go about their business while not maintaining its own property properly. It may be in the Bill but I did not think it was stressed. Perhaps, it does not need to be stressed and the Minister may be confident that the council will look after its own property. However, sad experience has shown that public bodies have not always been the best at maintaining their own property.

I also welcome the educational aspects of the amendments and Deputy Quill's contribution. I welcome this educational role for the Heritage Council. The Minister would agree that there is a need to look at our whole education system and the rather narrow examination basis of second level education. I hope he will agree that there is a need to expand the role of teaching civics. Encouraging the protection of our national heritage should be an integral part of this broad civics based programme which should be compulsory. It should not be something which an enthusiastic teacher does as a project in the transitional year; rather it should be part of civics training so that young people leave school with a very broad understanding and appreciation of our heritage.

The work of the Heritage Council would be greatly enhanced if young people, in particular, had that broad understanding. There is also a need for modules of adult education in this field as the public tends to leave it to what they call arty types whom they think are the only ones interested in our natural heritage. However, it is everybody's natural heritage and we should all protect it.

With regard to the amendment dealing with educational bodies, I wonder if the definition of "public authority" is broad enough. As the Minister is aware, outside of the local and regional authorities the number of bodies in receipt of vast quantities of public funds in terms of area partnership or Leader funding is mushrooming. These bodies, which are not constituted by statute or as formally based as those which the Minister mentioned in his definition, have the power to obtain and dispose of buildings. I would like to see an element of control over any acquisition they might make of buildings of architectural value, particularly bodies in receipt of public finances.

I agree with Senator Taylor-Quinn about the inclusion of railways in section 2. It is a pity this legislation and this power did not exist years ago. In my home town of Newcastlewest there is a glorious station house which is falling into rack and ruin. It was disposed of by Iarnród Éireann to two private concerns which many local bodies are afraid will not maintain the building in the style it deserves. If this power had been on the Statute Book before Iarnród Éireann had disposed of the land it would have had to consult with the Heritage Council which could have determined the manner of the restoration or preservation of this building.

There is a great deal of concern in the west Limerick area about the old Limerick to Kerry railway line. A group of people are trying to encourage the council to acquire this line from Iarnród Éireann but they are not having much success. Not only has it enormous tourist potential but it also passes through some remarkable botanical grounds. Some of the plants that are growing along the old abandoned railway line are rare and unique and it is very much their wish that it would be preserved. If the rail line is broken up and sold to individual farmers, these natural habitats will be at risk. I know the Minister would not like me to pursue it too much, in line with what he has said about the power of the Heritage Council not to routinely acquire heritage properties; but this heritage property could be acquired by the council and developed in line with the local community groups. As it is only a matter of one State body transferring ownership to another, the cost should not be that enormous. It is not as if either body was there to make an enormous profit on the deal.

Many in the Labour Party welcome the decision to stop the development at Mullaghmore. Mullaghmore and the Burren region do not only belong to the people in the parishes of County Clare but to the country at large, and any decision made on that should take this into account. However, the views of the locals should be consulted first, because they are important. I am not trying to cut down their views or ideas. They live there; they are entitled to have their views and to express them as forcibly as possible but this region belongs to the people of Ireland, who, at the end of the day, have the right to say what should become of it.

Will this debate be resumed?

It is intended to finish the debate at 2 p.m. If it does not finish at that time, it will have to be resumed.

I want to try to accommodate the Minister and ensure that he does not have to return to us a second day. I would also be interested to hear the Minister's reply to some of the points that were raised earlier.

The Bill has been very substantially improved by the amendments that were made both here and in the Lower House. I congratulate the Minister for his openness in the way that he has dealt with the amendments, several of which were moved by my party. When the Bill was coming through this House, the Minister accepted the need to include the word "protection" in the Title of the Bill, as well as "appreciation" and "knowledge". The Minister also agreed to the proposal to have a standing committee on inland waterways, which are one of our greatest national heritage resources. The Minister was also kind enough to accept the need to include regional authorities and to reduce the age of heritage objects from 50 years, as originally proposed, to 25 years. Subsequently in these amendments, the Minister agreed to Deputy Quill's proposals to have the educational aspect, the railways and the accounting period included.

I do not know if it is necessary to formally second the amendment proposed by Senator Quinn, but if it is, I am prepared to do it.

There was a point raised about the new section 24 and the functions of the Commissioners of Public Works. I can see a certain merit in some of the arguments that Senator Daly made, not in respect of Mullaghmore but of the function of the Commissioners of Public Works and the Office of Public Works. It appears there will be a division of responsibility between different Government Departments and that can lead to confusion. Having said that, I also agree that the matters within the scope of the Bill most appropriately lie within the ambit of the Commissioners of Public Works. Since the Minister is responsible for the legislation, therefore it is logical that in this area the Commissioners of Public Works should fall within his control. However, I do see a potential difficulty arising here with different Government Departments. Perhaps the Minister when he replies might address what the outcome of that might be. There is a requirement that the section should stand in a legal sense, but there is likely to be an outcome from it.

The matter of Mullaghmore is relevant to section 24 of the Bill. The Minister will be aware that there was a Progressive Democrats Private Members' motion before the House last week which asked him, among other things. not to proceed with the project. I am pleased to see that the Minister and the Government have made that decision. During the course of that debate it was a disappointment that when it came to call for a division, Senator Henry was the only person, apart from myself and Senator Honan, who supported the need for one. There was no division because the Leader of the Fine Gael group indicated that in the event of one occurring, his group would abstain. Senator Sherlock, on behalf of Democratic Left, said that he strongly supported the motion and, of course. Senator O'Sullivan did agree with the need to stop proceeding with the project. This was not in any way to preempt the Government decision — that was obviously a matter for the Government — but it was trying to indicate clearly a position in respect of this and other interpretative centres. I thank the Minister for the decision he has made; it is a good one.

The difficulty in this debate does not lie with whether we should have interpretative or heritage centres but with where they should be located. It is unquestionably the case that in respect of Mullaghmore, apart from whatever problems that might arise about the protection of the flora in the area, the nature of the geology of the area would make it highly undesirable that a structure with large numbers of people going through should be located over porous limestone with the potential for the pollution of ground water. The point was made about the large numbers of people going into Coole Park and that this in some way would be a defence for the progress of the Mullaghmore centre. That is again a completely different matter in the sense that we are dealing with different geology. I do not accept the point that since there is one situation for Coole Park, the same should apply for Mullaghmore. It should be said, however, that if the house at Coole Park had not been demolished in the first place, there would be no need at all for an interpretative centre.

One of the greatest heritage elements we have are our great houses and we are losing them at an alarming rate. The difficulty with the Bill is that it cannot deal with those items which are in private ownership. If we take a building of the stature of Tullynally Castle in Castlepollard — if Senator Cassidy were here, he would make this point — or Carton House in County Kildare, they are of immense importance not only nationally but internationally. They have the capacity to generate large sums of money from tourist revenue and the Minister will have to give some attention to it in consequence of this Bill. I accept that the private element will have to be dealt with separately, but something will have to be done.

With regard to Minister's decision to retain car parks at Luggala, it is obvious if one looks at the aerial pictures or if one has visited Luggala or Mullaghmore as I have, that it is illogical to expect, having spent £3.5 million, that we are going to return these sites to the pristine condition they were in before this environmental vandalism was imposed upon them. The Minister's decision is therefore sensible as the provision of car parks provides access for the public, and I cannot even envisage a situation where trees would be planted at Luggala.

I raised a question on the motion for Private Members' Business last week which I now put to the Minister again. Is there any evidence in either Luggala or Mullaghmore that public moneys continued to be expended when it was apparent by virtue of judgments by the courts. An Bord Pleanála or the Government, that these developments might not proceed? Is there any evidence that people spent money in the expectation that, having demonstrated that this money was spent, it would influence the outcome of decisions made by the Government or elsewhere? If, as has been suggested, we have spent £3.5 million, I would regard it as money well spent if it led to legislation imposing the need for planning on public authorities, to improved legislation in the planning area and if it made us concentrate our minds to the degree to which they have been concentrated on this issue.

Senator Taylor-Quinn referred to the farming community and the difficulties or otherwise of farming within the relevant area of County Clare. This raises another question which will become increasingly important in the coming years, and it is one to which the Minister may give some thought. It is the degree to which people living in those areas of enormous national and international significance are expected to be the custodians of that environment. Is it required of the farming community that it pays the price of maintaining these areas in pristine condition for the benefit of the tourists and of the people who visit them?

The fundamental conundrum in the Mullaghmore situation and in other situations is to balance the needs, priorities, desires and rights of local communities which wish to remain viable, to live and to continue to live in their areas, against the broader rights of Irish society and, in the case of the Burren. international society. However, there is a cost involved and the question arises as to whether that cost falls to the people who live there, or whether it falls to the greater society. In the event that society decrees that the value of the resource is such that it must be protected for the community at large, for the international community and for posterity, it falls to society at large to fund whatever is being talked about in terms of protection.

This issue has arisen in areas of England. For example, in the Lake District farmers are given assistance because they are compelled to maintain their stone walls in a certain condition or because they are compelled to maintain the farmhouses, out buildings and so on. These are questions which we will have to address at some stage and it is highly unlikely that we are going to have the resources to deal with it effectively. It is an issue which is relevant to section 24 of the Bill, concerning the functions of the Office of Public Works and the Commissioners of Public Works and how they relate to these situations.

I am pleased about the aspect of the Bill dealing with waterways. A magnificent job has been undertaken by the restoration committee on the Royal Canal and in this respect we must acknowledge the work undertaken by the Office of Public Works throughout the country in renovating our waterways and improving them, especially a waterway which is familiar to Senator Mooney in his part of the country, that between Ballinamore and Lough Erne.

The legislation is very fine, but unless those responsible are given the resources, it will only be another Act on a shelf and it will not achieve the objective which the Minister has for it. Adequate funding must be made available to allow the council to perform its duties effectively and well. I agree with the point made by Senator Kelly regarding the funds now being made available to the partnership companies through Leader. Many of the Leader groups have undertaken very valuable work in terms of renovating local buildings of a heritage quality which had fallen into disuse or disrepair — for example, old churches or monuments. Leader funding has been made available and, as this amounts to public moneys, it is important that we ensure they are well spent.

I welcome the improvements which have been made to the Bill, and it has been substantially improved. I commend the Minister for the openness with which he accepted the amendments, both in this House and the other House, and for bringing back amendments to deal with the points raised where necessary. I hope the Bill will achieve the objective which the Minister has for it.

I welcome the Minister to the House. I gather from slight difficulties he had in delivering the detail of the amendments that he may be suffering from a condition which I experienced last week and I hope it will not be long before he recovers from his cold. It is a most debilitating experience to endure when attempting to address people.

In welcoming the Bill and the amendments before the House today, I am saddened that this legislation was not before the House many years ago. I could not help think, for example, of my late father and many others who in the latter part of the 1950s fought against the obdurate bureaucracy of the then CIE, who, once the decision to close them was taken, refused to see any potential whatsoever in not only the retention of the branch railway lines throughout Ireland but in at least retaining and maintaining the buildings past which those railways had run.

It is an indictment of our predecessors and of the planning ethos of that time that they dismissed completely the intrinsic value of our railways and our structures. I heartily endorse the comments of my colleagues, especially Senator Taylor-Quinn and Senator Kelly, in that it is important that railways have been included under the provisions of the Bill. In this context I could not help think of a small community — and perhaps it is the kind of thing the Minister has in mind — not far from me in Drumshanbo called Drumcong. It is a rural community and its main focal point is a bar and grocery, a church and a school and it adjoins the Shannon-Erne waterway. Within that small area a refurbishment of an old church is taking place, there is a designated dolmen within two or three minutes' drive, and on Lough Scur, which adjoins this community, there are the remnants of what is known as Reynold's Fort, an underground jail where one of the feudal lords of days past cast away his opponents for indeterminable periods.

The local development organisation in that small community has embarked on an impressive programme of restoration and maintenance. It would be remiss of me not to make the Minister aware of an application by the community in Kiltubrid for funding for their church under the recent EU initiative which is being administered by the Office of Public Works and which will now become part of the Minister's remit. The initiative to fund ecclesiastical buildings of merit throughout the EU is currently under investigation and I understand the Office of Public Works will submit its final recommendations to the relevant section of the Commission by 31 March.

A limited amount of money is available and the Office of Public Works will recommend to the Commission the applications received by the closing date at the end of January which meet the eligibility standards. I ask the Minister, if he has influence in this matter, to use it to direct some of the money towards the small community in Kiltubrid. The community has already expended a considerable amount of money at local level. It is the type of structure and area that the Minister had in mind in this Bill. I appreciate that the European Commission will ultimately decide on eligibility. However, the Minister might take note of this matter. I will write to him about it when this Bill becomes law because it will come under his aegis.

I welcome the incorporation of the heritage aspects of the activities of the Office of Public Works into the Minister's Department. As he has said repeatedly, it is a natural consequence of the brief given to him by the Government in 1993. While obviously there will be growing pains, especially for an organisation that pre-dates the foundation of the State, it is only logical that the heritage aspects of that office's work should come under the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Amendments Nos. 6 and 10 relate to the ownership of buildings. The Minister has clarified that he is introducing provisions in this Bill similar to those which already exist in legislation for the establishment of statutory bodies such as An Bord Gaeilge and An Bord Glas. However, the Heritage Council is different to those quoted as examples in the context of this amendment. I am not against the inclusion of the amendments. However, I wonder what the consequences will be, particularly with regard to gifts to the State. Is it true that bequests or gifts were taken on by the Office of Public Works or are gifts to the nation the responsibility of the Department of Finance? This is a small point but I am curious about the future situation regarding bequests of buildings of architectural and historical merit to the State. Does that now come under the Minister's aegis or will it first go to the Heritage Council?

I am pleased and not surprised that the Minister accepted the amendment proposed by Deputy Quill in the Lower House. I am a member of one of the boards of studies attached to the National Council for Vocational Awards. This particular board of studies is responsible for communications in the performing arts. Over the last couple of weeks I have been pleased to note that the number of modules coming before us for consideration for inclusion as part of the school curriculum in post-leaving certificate courses include an increasing number of modules which reflect an interest in local history and heritage matters. This might address the comments made by Senator Kelly about second level education. The trend I have seen over the last two months has been towards the initiation of such modules in PLC courses so at least it is happening at that level. I wonder if the Heritage Council and, in the wider context, the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht might consider the establishment of a bursary or some form of encouragement for students who wish to include heritage subjects in their modules in adult education. That would be important and there would be widespread consensus on the issue. Perhaps either the council or the Department might take that suggestion on board.

Amendment No. 12 places a time limit on the Heritage Council for the return of its accounts to both Houses of the Oireachtas. It is generally accepted that this Bill is long on aspiration but somewhat limited in its financial scope. It will rely heavily on the Department of Finance to fund its objectives. What will be the financial implications of this Bill? Many of the sections have a financial consequence. Deputy Connor during the Dáil debate on Second Stage dwelt in considerable detail on the financial shortcomings of this legislation. He asked — and I am interested to know if the Minister pursued this matter — that the Minister include all aspects of the spending of EU funding in the remit of the council.

As I remarked in the context of the EU initiative on ecclesiastical buildings of architectural merit, there is an increasing amount of money becoming available from European sources. Admittedly, the amount is small but there is an increasing number of initiatives in this area coming from Europe. Does the Minister see this as part of his remit? I appreciate that, as the Minister pointed out, many of the operational programmes were already at an advanced stage when the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht was set up. However, I presume the Department has examined this matter.

At the risk of repeating myself. I wish to emphasise the promotion of the educational aspects of our heritage. Although it might be premature, could the Minister outline if the Heritage Council will take a proactive role in this area? I am thinking in terms of mainstream commercial advertising and promotion rather than a subdued policy of circulating large unread press releases and missives to schools and institutions. The Minister will agree it is important that the general public be educated rather than just the school going population.

Education is not necessarily confined to academic institutions, there is a wider public role. As a member of the Board of Studies of the National Council for Vocational Awards I see increasing evidence that modules are being prepared with a large local history content. Perhaps the Department and the Minister might take an initiative in this area by providing bursaries or scholarships for those who have an interest in developing local history, perhaps to Ph.D. level. It is a new area which is beginning to be recognised at academic level.

Amendment No. 14 provides that the minimum membership of the council will be 14. I welcome the commitment of the Government to gender balance although I am a late convert to the idea of quotas. I have not been totally convinced——

Even music quotas?

I am a complete convert to Irish music quotas in broadcasting and perhaps the Minister and I will have an interesting discussion about them in that context. I am, however, a late convert to gender quotas and have not become a zealot. The experience in Europe has been that unless legislation provides for access for women to positions of power and influence, it will not happen on its own. If we were to have a debate on quotas and gender balance, the Minister and I would not be too far apart; while it is not the best method it seems to be the only method to redress the inequity.

We should go further, although perhaps not in this Bill because the Minister is anxious for it to become law. In the wider philosophical discussion on gender, would he consider providing not only that there should be a 50-50 gender balance but that the chairperson or cathaoirleach of these bodies should be a woman?

I refer the Minister to an article in the last issue of The Sunday Business Post by Ms Terry Prone, who is well known to Members as a communications consultant. She argued forcibly that while women are packed at the lower end of the executive scale, there seems to be some monster eating these executives; at middle management level they thin out to the point of being negligible or non-existent, when ordinarily they would have gravitated to a higher executive level. She cited various examples in both the public and private sectors.

In progressing the logic behind a gender balance and quotas, introduced by the partnership Government and by this Government, perhaps the Minister should provide legislatively that the chairpersons of statutory bodies under his aegis should be women. They might not naturally gravitate to the higher positions; it is not happening in the public or private sectors so one has to assume it will not happen in areas under his control.

That move would be supported by anyone who favours gender balances and women assuming positions of power and influence at the highest level. No one would be against nudging them towards that utopia by insisting in the initial stages of this revolution that they be appointed to high positions.

I have refrained from involvement in the controversy on the Government decisions about Mullaghmore and Luggala. I may be wrong about this, but can the Minister assure me this legislation will not result in vocal minority groups holding up progressive initiatives, especially in tourism, because of a view that all significant heritage areas should remain virgin territory? The spokespersons for some environmental groups — I am choosing my words carefully — tend to be people who have moved to this country for the valid and attractive reason that Ireland offers an unparallelled quality of life. This view should not have an exaggerated influence on job creation opportunities in the heritage and cultural tourism area that will assist in stabilising rural communities, such as the one I mentioned in Kiltubrid.

This is a wide issue but I would he interested in the Minister's thoughts on the matter. There are people who have moved to this country for a specific reason and hold somewhat narrow views. While their views are valid and they may have the strongest environmental reasons for taking public positions either for or against proposals of a heritage nature, they have a single agenda in that they have moved to this country primarily and specifically because of what they perceive to be virgin territory which should be left completely untouched. I do not agree with that extreme view and I am curious to know whether a balanced view will be taken of the activities of the National Heritage Council in the context of this legislation.

I enthusiastically welcome the Bill. If the Minister was not in this position, this legislation might not have come before the House for some time as it would not have been seen as a priority. We have come a long way since I was living in England and read in my local newspaper about a councillor, long since gone to his eternal reward, who bitterly opposed an increase in the estimate for library books on the basis that the people did not need books; what they wanted was roads.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a fhearadh roimh an Aire chun an Teach seo. Tá súil agam go bhfeicfimid go minic é sa Teach sna blianta atá le teacht — mar Aire, dár ndóigh agus ní mar Sheanadóir. I have some specific points about the amendments.

I welcome the inclusion of genealogical records under amendment No. 3. How does the Minister envisage the relationship developing between this type of record keeping and archival record keeping in the State and what cooperation or co-ordination will there be? This is not meant as an adversarial question but in terms of the longer term strategic — if I may use that much abused word — development of records, what relationship will there be between those of cultural importance, of historical importance and of research importance?

I also warmly welcome the inclusion of education under amendments Nos. 8 and 9. I listened with great interest to the Minister saying the study of heritage should be included in the schools curriculum; I agree with him and with Senator Kelly and Senator Mooney, who endorsed that position. I wonder if the phraseology in the Bill provides the Minister with as much reinforcement as he would wish in that direction, although there is no better man to look after those interests.

The reference to education mentions the need to promote interest, education, knowledge and pride in heritage. That is welcome but education is a general word. Would one wish to see reference to education within the formal educational system as well as more generally or can it be taken that "education" encompasses specific inclusion in the formal system?

Likewise in amendment No. 9 to section 6 (3) (b), I presume the reference to educational bodies includes educational bodies at all levels — perhaps I am being pernickety here. There should be no reservation about the types of educational bodies to which the activities might relate.

Senator Mooney referred to the possibility of the council providing some financial incentives for heritage studies in the form of bursaries and so on. I would encourage anything in that direction. In my own department last year we introduced an MA in local history. That is the direction in which third level institutions should be moving. The heritage dimension can be very fruitfully included at second level and, indeed, to an extent at first level. Within the context of a civics education, to which Senator Kelly referred, I would enthusiastically endorse developments in that direction. Anything that would enhance the status of heritage within education is well worth supporting and the Seanad should do anything it can to reinforce, if necessary, the Minister's commitment in that area.

As we all know, heritage is a fragmented sector. I do not know the ins and outs — and I am not even going to inquire about them at this stage as it would be highly indelicate — of the diversity of opinions which may have been expressed within the general bureaucracy and within and between Departments and sections about the way things are going. However, diversity need not mean fragmentation provided there is a core sense of heritage values informing the approach taken by the public, the bureaucracy and the politicians. The Minister has made an unprecedented contribution to the fostering of a heritage ethos among the public and I hope he is succeeding in doing so among his colleagues and in the Civil Service. It is an extremely important contribution and one of historic importance in terms of our self image as a society. I wish the Minister well in the further fostering of that ethos. This Bill will make a major contribution to its development. I welcome the Bill and the energy and imagination that underlies it and I wish it well.

Tá mé thar a bheith buíoch do na Seanadóirí as ucht na tuairimí a nochtaigh siad arís maidir leis na leasuithe atá déanta sa Dáil don reachtaíocht seo agus na tuairimí a nochtaigh siad an chéad uair.

I thank Senators for their interest and their thoughtful contributions on this legislation, which equalled their interest in the legislation to amend the National Monuments Act which was enacted last year. I appreciate and value the genuine concern for our heritage on all sides of this House. I am delighted to have been able to accept Committee Stage amendments because the quality of the legislation has been improved as a result.

I acknowledge again the excellent work of the existing non-statutory National Heritage Council, which, under the chairmanship of Lord Killanin, has done such good work. I had a great and frank relationship with them, though at times not always one of agreement. We have a good relationship, but they stood their ground at a time when they did not have statutory support. I look forward to developing an equally good relationship with the new statutory and autonomous Heritage Council. Elected representatives should think long about that word "autonomous" because they will see it in letters from me. The purpose of autonomy and responsibility is that I do not interfere and that is why the council are getting powers and being established as a result of the passage of this Bill.

As I said in my introduction, the setting up of the Heritage Council as a statutory corporation must be viewed in the context of an overall strategy in setting up the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. This point has been noted by Senators. Policy formulation in the Department will be assisted by a group of corporate bodies with particular specialist membership who will, in addition to providing advice, also carry out specified executive functions which are outside the ambit of existing institutions.

A heritage policy unit will draw all aspects of heritage together. This Bill will inter alia set up one of these bodies, An Chomhairle Oidhreachta. This should also be seen as part of a package of legislative measures which have been. or are in the process of being, prepared in my Department. As I already stated, the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994, has been enacted. We now add this Bill and my Department is working on proposals to amend the Wildlife Act, which will be the third component. We will provide new legislation for museums, libraries and parks.

We will then have a body of legislation which will take the heritage area and make it strong. From that will derive the strength of institutions. We can argue for resources and we will be able to endorse and ratify various European Directives. As a corpus of legislation, it will compare well with what is available in Europe and it will also be modern. It will then be given an institutional expression to bring us past the end of this century and into the next. I appreciate Senators' contributions because this component of the legislation package provides a sound building block.

I wish to address as fully as I can some of the points made, given the time constraint. I do not want to delay my own legislation. A number of Senators raised the question of the clarification of functions. I would like to be forthright about this. When I became Minister early in 1993, it was expressed that I was responsible for future policy and that the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works was responsible for implementation. The idea was that I would decide the general guidelines of policy, we would then agree a year's programme and the Minister of State would look after its implementation. In practice there were difficulties deciding what was policy and what was implementation, what was new and what was ongoing and so forth.

It made sense, when the present Government was being formed, to try to resolve this by putting it on a statutory basis. Most Members will be delighted to hear that there have been two Government orders — one dated December 1994 and the other March 1995 — which transferred to me all the functions of the Minister for Finance as far as they affect the heritage areas. This means that the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht is now responsible for national parks and the wildlife service, the national monuments and historic property service, and the waterways service.

The work of the Office of Public Works has been admired for a long time by over 90 per cent of the people in this country. It is of an excellent standard and no one wants to damage that. However, the public are entitled to know who answers Dáil questions and matters raised in the Seanad. They are entitled to know where the buck stops in relation to heritage. I am responsible for heritage. One then has to decide what happens to the other matters dealt with by the Office of Public Works. A decision on future functions is a matter for the Government. However, members of the public and elected representatives are entitled to know where the responsibility for policy and the accountability for a year's work lies. I take that responsibility and I exercise it.

I do not want to delay by mentioning matters which are not strictly within the ambit of the legislation, but I want to reply to the references made about my exercising this power. I mentioned the dates December 1994 and March 1995. Any suggestion I made in relation to heritage policy was entirely proper in terms of the Government orders that were made. I do not want to contribute to any recrimination in relation to the decision that was taken. It is better that a decision has been made and we should learn from it. Let us admit that the State needed to be told by the Supreme Court that it had to apply for planning permission. Out of dark things come bright things. We now have legislation requiring the State to do that and I welcome it. It is a good thing. We now need to manage the interaction of our heritage. community development and tourism in ways which will be ecologically responsible, dignified in relation to tourism and hopefully achieve a consensus.

Many Senators referred to my announcement in which I mentioned a management plan. It seems to me to make sense that what is done should be placed in the context of a management plan which includes aims and principles of accountability. The idea in the case of Wicklow is to develop a plan which will serve that area according to the criteria I mentioned.

The same will apply in relation to the county in which I was reared, County Clare. I am from the south of Clare rather than the north, and some might suggest that is a good thing at the moment. I am familiar with and have a great feeling for the county, but anything I say or have said is aimed towards having a management plan and looking at it in context. We should remember that preparatory documents, such as the Brady shipment plan, are already available. We can integrate our response to the future with these other planning documents, and such consultations have taken place with the local authority. Groups should be consulted.

An historic shift in culture is required. There was a time in Irish culture when people imagined that if one presented people with nearly finished items, they would accept them. However, we are now at a point in our cultural history where people want to see things in the shapes that are to come before their consent is presumed. We must operate in that manner.

I have no intention of waiting 25 years for any management plan; I am not noted for tardiness. However long the Killarney plan took — and I have an idea that it did not take that long — it was a prototype plan. Other plans which derive from it should not necessarily need the same basis work which was required on that occasion.

Could the Minister put a time on it?

We will be able to build on it and use it as a good model. I am not in a position to say who is responsible for what has been called the "glass contraption" in Limerick. There will always be debate about this matter.

The Minister opened it.

It has not reached the level of the debate about Paris yet. I have covered some of Senator Daly's points. He asked about functions and I have addressed that issue. There is also the point that the Office of Public Works predates the State. There may well be points at which they have statutory functions which are derived from the Ministers and Secretaries Act of the 1920s. The Government is reviewing the position this regard, not in the sense of being any way destructive of the Office of Public Works, but of merging its statutory functions with the functions I am taking, among others, in relation to heritage.

I agree with Senator Quinn's point that timescales should be imposed. My initial difficulty was interesting, in that if one was late with the accounts, should one use it as an excuse for being late with the report also. I brought forward the report to change it around so that the report could go ahead, but one would require the accounts to be presented. All I can say to the Senator at this stage is that I hope to address the aims he suggested by good managerial practice.

I have responsibility and accountability for a number of different bodies. If I found that there were inordinate delays everywhere in relation to those bodies and legislation was necessary, I would consider introducing a short Bill. It is not good that a report comes out a year or two years late; this is not an example we should give to people. It is a question of civics and it is good practice to report on what one does. I will aim to achieve, through administrative practice immediately, the issues raised by the Senator. I will keep it in mind if we need to return to this point.

There are two points in the Government policy agreement regarding buildings which constitute architectural heritage. Statutory protection will be given to listed buildings and a full national architectural audit will also be carried out. A number of Senators were interested in this area and asked about it. An interdepartmental committee has been established to examine both of these matters. Officials from my Department, the Department of the Environment and the Office of Public Works constitute the committee and I expect a report before the end of the year. We will then be in a position to move forward on that issue.

I am not ignoring points raised by Senators, but I do not want to repeat myself. Senator Taylor-Quinn welcomed the reference to architectural heritage and the management plan in north County Clare. She also asked about planning applications. In relation to the future of the planning application to Clare County Council, my personal impression is that a new application will be required. It is best to look at everything in the context of what the management plan indicates is appropriate. There is also hope around which consensus can develop.

Senator Kelly made a number of points. I am happy that the definition of public authority is wide enough at present. The Bill provides control over heritage buildings in the ownership of public authorities. The problem with extending public authority in the ownership sections is that one could encounter constitutional difficulties. However, the committee to which I referred carrying out the audit will be able to address this issue and come up with proposals which I can then consider. Senator Kelly also welcomed the general broadening of the Bill and many Senators welcomed the inclusion of railways and related buildings.

I thank Senator Dardis for his party's amendments, both here and in the other House. I agree that funding is required for the Bill. Senator Mooney made a number of valuable points. For his information, there are 85 applications for funding at present. It is a small amount of money, but I wish his district every success. It is the type of scheme which should be developed in the future. It is a project which should qualify in an application to the Heritage Council when it is constituted.

I also thank the Senator for pointing out that this is the second time I have legislated for gender equality. Under the Broadcasting Act, the RTE Authority must be composed of either three, three and one or four, four and one. We have also legislated in that regard in this Bill. Would that it were not necessary, but it is necessary to make a point.

Senator Lee made a number of valuable points. I assure him that the reference to genealogical records was to include it as a fact. The question of the keeping of archives and the responsibility of transfer is in the legislation dealing with the archives council. One has a duty in relation to practice, while the other is a reference for inclusion in relation to what constitutes an archive. I deliberately inserted education so that it would not only be State education, but include all forms of education at all levels. It is inclusive in the most general sense.

In relation to other bodies, the Senator's idea is fragmentation. I assure him that we need autonomy with responsibility, but with a clear delineation of accountability. When we get the legislation right, we can make a case for funding. If we have the public behind us and involve ourselves in acts of education, we will have taken a significant step forward. I thank Senators for their contributions.

Question put and agreed to.
Question: "That the Bill do now pass", put and agreed to.