My role, as Minister, with regard to the protection and management of our architectural heritage, is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the role of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners as regards heritage assets.
The buildings referred to by the Deputy are in local authority ownership. In relation to the first building, I understand the local authority is working to assess the potential to redevelop and find a long term sustainable use for it. As part of this process I am informed that an appraisal of the building was carried out by consultants on behalf of the County Council, a public consultation was held by the local authority and the consultants’ report was presented to the Council in April 2018.
My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Structures at Risk Fund (SRF) and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS), which are administered by local authorities. This year I have allocated €1.3 m and €2 m, respectively, to these schemes.
I have also provided funding of €1 m in 2018 for the Historic Towns Initiative, which is a joint initiative of my Department and the Heritage Council. This initiative is supporting six historic towns in 2018 which are carrying out significant heritage regeneration projects. I understand that the local authority were successful in applying for funding under the Initiative this year for works to the second building mentioned, but the application was subsequently withdrawn by the local authority pending their consideration of a long-term plan for the future of the building.
In terms of future funding, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018–2027 represents a major capital investment scheme of €1.2 billion over the next 10 years, which will include increased investment in protecting and celebrating our built heritage across the country. More details on the commencement and completion dates for projects and programmes, as well as the timing of the expenditure in relation to them, will emerge as we go through the process of appraisal and planning as required under the Public Spending Code.