All monuments listed in the Record of Monuments and Places are protected under the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004.
As Minister, I am the owner or guardian under the National Monuments Acts of approximately 1,000 national monuments located at approximately 750 sites. Maintenance of such monuments is undertaken on my behalf by the Office of Public Works. The Acts allow me to make a preservation order where I consider a national monument to be at risk. Local authorities are responsible under the Acts for maintaining the national monuments of which they are owners or guardians.
My Department records all reports of damage to recorded monuments. Such reports usually emanate from members of the public, local authorities or heritage-based NGOs.
My Department also liaises regularly with the utility and infrastructure providers and has agreed codes of practice with a number of these agencies aimed at safeguarding archaeological sites and monuments. In addition, awareness programmes are in place with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc and farm organisations that are aimed at raising awareness in relation to farming and archaeology.
Notwithstanding the wide ranging legal provisions and other programmes in place, damage to archaeological sites and monuments does occur from time to time. Cases involving alleged wilful damage to monuments, such as occurred last year at a site in Co. Longford, are followed up in liaison with An Garda Síochána.
Prosecutions in respect of damage to recorded monuments are initiated by my Department where warranted and there have been a number of convictions for such offences in recent years.