Ireland’s current World Heritage Tentative List has come about from a very comprehensive, thorough and inclusive process undertaken by a panel of Irish and international heritage experts specifically appointed for that purpose. The process included full public consultation and an indepth review of all proposed candidate sites.
In the meantime, my Department has engaged with local authorities and local groups from the areas with proposals on the Tentative List to gauge the extent of the support available to advance the proposals and to clarify the work and resources required for that purpose. The fundamental requirement is that each site must be capable of demonstrating Outstanding Universal Value to UNESCO.
Technical evaluations have been produced for each of the six sites forming part of the Royal Sites serial nomination which are currently being reviewed by experts. My Department is examining a draft of the Burren evaluation document which will be completed as quickly as possible to allow the evaluation itself to proceed. In the case of the Historic City of Dublin proposal, this is being advanced by Dublin City Council and my Department is represented on the Steering Committee.
The next steps will involve developing Management Plans for each site (a UNESCO requirement) and the designation of core and buffer zones in each case. At each stage local consultation is required. This process will also have to take into account the fact that some sites will be managed by the Office of Public Works, others by local authorities and that two monuments on the Royal Sites list are privately owned. Another - Eamhain Macha in Armagh - is in Northern Ireland. The culmination of these steps will be the creation of the full nomination documents for each site for submission to UNESCO.
I am committed to supporting the current proposals in every way that I can but the process is a lengthy one and all of the work at every stage must be supported and developed from the local level up with stakeholder buy-in and commitment at each and every stage. While this adds to the timescale, it is infinitely preferable than a top down approach that fails to engage with local communities. It also ensures a far better chance of best care and support for the protection and preservation of these sites into the future.