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. As the Deputy will be aware, this building is in the ownership and management of Monaghan County Council, and is, in the first instance, a matter for it.
Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, gives primary responsibility to planning authorities (i.e. local 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 Market House in Castleblayney 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 and it is a protected structure within the meaning of the Planning and Development Acts.
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. I understand that further decisions in relation to the future of the structure will be made when 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 Monaghan 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. While projects funded under my Department's Historic Structures and Built Heritage Investment Schemes have been announced this year, it is open to the Local Authority to make an application for funding under these schemes when they are next open for applications.