Heritage Ireland 2030 is this Government’s commitment to a revitalised and refreshed National Heritage Plan. The development of that Plan is led by my Department.
Our heritage belongs to us all and it is important this shared ownership is reflected in Heritage Ireland 2030 – not only in its content but also in its composition. As such, in November 2018 I announced a three-month national public consultation in which members of the public and stakeholder organisations were invited to respond to questions relating to the three proposed themes of the plan: National Leadership and Heritage; Heritage Partnerships; and Communities and Heritage, as well as having their say on the future of our heritage and helping to identify the priorities for funding of €285 million identified in Project Ireland 2040 for investment in our built and natural heritage. The Department, alongside partner organisations, and some Local Authorities, organised public workshops to encourage individuals and communities to make submissions.
Such was the scale of the response to the public consultation that I decided to extend the consultation period by an extra month, until the end of March this year, in order to allow for additional workshops to be held and further submissions received. In total, 70 workshops were held and 2156 submissions were received by my Department.
My Department, assisted by an external expert multi-disciplinary team, analysed the submissions and, on 28 May, hosted a public information event in Dublin Castle at which the initial findings of the analysis were presented and the next steps in the Heritage Ireland 2030 process outlined. The event was livestreamed on the Department’s website and Facebook page and the recording can still be accessed at those locations.
The quantitative analysis of the submissions showed that, of the 1225 submissions received by email and post, 9 were from County Louth. Of the 931 submissions received in response to my Department’s online survey, 5 were from County Louth.
The public information event on Heritage Ireland 2030 hosted by my Department on 28 May was a great success and was fully subscribed, attended by 270 people. Invitations to the event were issued to all who made submissions to the consultation and the surplus was made available to members of the public, advertised through my Department’s website and its social media. The event was an opportunity for individuals and organisations who care about our heritage to meet with one another and to discuss with my officials and other experts the challenges and opportunities faced.
The initial public consultation phase has now ended and my officials will continue to liaise with officials in other Departments while they draft the Plan over the coming months. It is anticipated that a draft Plan will be published for further observations by the end of 2019 and interested individuals and groups will have an opportunity to comment further at that stage.