My role with regard to the protection and management of our architectural heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the roles of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners.
Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including particular structures on their Record of Protected Structures. Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.
The building mentioned by the Deputy is in the ownership and management of the local authority, and is, in the first instance a matter for it. It is recorded in my Department’s National Inventory of Architectural Heritage and is rated there as of Regional Importance. As such it was recommended to the local authority for inclusion in its Record of Protected Structures.
As the owner of this protected structure, the local authority has a duty under the Acts to ensure the structure does not become endangered. I am informed that there is considerable work underway at present in advance of conducting an analysis of its structural integrity. The Council have informed my Department that no decision in relation to the future of the structure can be made until this assessment is completed.
In terms of the support that my Department can offer, my role in relation to protected structures is mainly advisory. My officials remain available to advise the County Council in its efforts to manage the building and see it returned to a sustainable use that is consistent with its significant history and position in the town.
My Department also provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Historic Structures Fund (HSF) and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS), which are administered by local authorities. On Thursday 28 March, I announced funding of €4.3 m for 478 projects under these schemes in 2019. Details of these projects and the funding are available on my Department's website and local authority websites. I understand, however, that the scale of investment needed for the structure mentioned would mean that the levels of grant funding available under these schemes would not be sufficient.
I fully understand and appreciate the value of our built heritage at a local level and I have asked officials in my Department to arrange to meet with the Deputy, along with Monaghan County Council, to discuss the location in question.