My function as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in relation to archaeological excavation is to regulate this activity through the licensing system under section 26 of the National Monuments Act 1930, as amended. So far this year 610 such licences have been issued.
The majority of archaeological excavations are carried out by private sector archaeological consultants for the purpose of assessing the impact of proposed development on possible archaeological features or mitigating the impact of development on archaeological heritage. Others are undertaken for conservation or research purposes. In deciding whether to grant an archaeological excavation licence appropriate consideration is given to the need to maintain the integrity of affected archaeological sites.
All archaeological excavation licences are granted subject to conditions requiring reports on the results to be furnished to my Department's National Monuments Service. These reports are publicly available and provide valuable research data for the archaeological community as well as enhancing our knowledge and understanding of our archaeological heritage and contributing to its protection.