In the interests of the preservation, conservation, management and presentation of the built and archaeological heritage, my Department occasionally seeks to acquire certain heritage properties and monuments as resources and opportunities permit. From time to time such properties may come onto the open market, may be bequeathed to the State or may be offered to it free of cost. In addition, lands surrounding or in proximity to heritage properties or national monuments in State care (i.e. incorporating the setting of the structure) often reside in private ownership. In certain cases, improved protection of the property or monument, or access to same, would be possible if the State was to acquire such additional lands. In all cases the Department would need to examine the potential acquisition carefully, taking into account the conservation needs of the property and Value for Money principles.
My Department, in cooperation with the Office of Public Works, is, however, only in a position to acquire, maintain, conserve and present to the public a very limited number of properties and monuments such as that mentioned by the Deputy. While I am supportive of efforts to identify suitable future uses to safeguard historic buildings, crucial to their future is the identification of a viable use or uses with sufficient income to ensure their survival.
The national monuments in State care already number some one thousand sites at over 760 locations right across the country and these command considerable resource commitments in terms of both funding and personnel allocation. In addition, there are more than 45,000 protected structures spread across all 31 local authority areas in the country and in excess of 120,000 monuments listed in the Record of Monuments and Places that are not maintained by the State.
My Department does not comment on ongoing property sales processes, as it would be inappropriate to intervene publicly in individual cases.