In January, my Department launched a call for applications to Ireland’s Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. The closing date is 26 June 2020 and, given the amount of preparatory work involved, I would not expect to see formal applications coming until nearer that deadline.
Inclusion on the Tentative List is the first step towards nomination for World Heritage status. Immediately after the June 2020 closing date, my Department will conduct an initial screening of all proposals received before transmitting them to an expert advisory group, which will make recommendations as to which sites should be included on the new Tentative List. The Department acts as Focal Point for Ireland, as State party to the World Heritage Convention, and therefore makes the final decision in relation to the Tentative List.
My Department’s National Monuments Service actively assists and advises applicants wishing to have sites put on the Tentative List. A number of meetings have already taken place with local authorities under this new round and information events are planned for communities with potential Tentative List sites in their areas. My Department's policy is for applications to be sponsored by the relevant local authority or other statutory body in order to ensure continuity throughout the process. Individuals or other organisations are encouraged to apply in collaboration with the relevant local authority. The role of the local authority is crucial in order to facilitate public consultation and wider stakeholder engagement, particularly in light of the requirement under the UNESCO Operational Guidelines for participatory planning and stakeholder consultation.
The most critical element when determining whether a site should be included on the Tentative List is the potential of the property to demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value, meaning that its significance is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations. The property must also meet relevant conditions of authenticity and integrity, and there must be mechanisms in place to provide for its long-term protection and management.
I look forward to seeing the new Tentative List beginning to take shape in the months ahead.