I propose to take Questions Nos. 377, 378 and 380 together.
My role with regard to the protection and management of our archaeological and architectural heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, including the Planning Acts and the National Monuments Acts, as are the roles of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners.
As Minister, I am the owner or guardian under the National Monuments Acts of approximately 1,000 national monuments located at approximately 750 sites. The Acts allow me to make a preservation order where I consider a national monument to be at risk.
Responsibility for management and maintenance of historical buildings and sites in State ownership, and management of related visitor facilities, rests with the Office of Public Works (OPW) which also maintains a significant ongoing programme of conservation works. This year, my Department has allocated €350,000 to the OPW for the maintenance of historic buildings and sites and we expect to allocate a further €400,000 before the end of the year.
My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through two grant schemes which are, in the main, administered by the local authorities. These are the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) and the Historic Structures Fund (HSF). This year some 450 heritage projects across every county in the country are benefiting from a combined sum of over €4.3m under these schemes.
An extra €1m in funding was secured for built heritage projects under the July Jobs Stimulus Package 2020, which aims to offset some of the effects of Covid-19. This funding supplemented 28 BHIS and SRF projects and supported 12 new ones, in addition to capital works by the Heritage Council and the Irish Heritage Trust.
I recently launched the BHIS and HSF for 2021, with a combined allocation of €6m, an increase of nearly 40%. Full details are available on my Department’s website and on the website of each local authority.
My Department announced a call for projects in September under the Community Monuments Fund (CMF) for investment in our archaeological heritage, which is being funded under the July Jobs Stimulus Package. The CMF is prioritised for local authorities, private owners and custodians, and community groups for the care, maintenance, protection and promotion of local monuments and historic sites and the provision of any required measures to ensure safe access during the Covid-19 pandemic. Total funding available for the scheme in 2020 is €900,000 and 69 projects nationally are being supported this year. I hope shortly to announce a continuance of the scheme for next year.
As the Deputy will be aware, preparation is well advanced in my Department on Heritage Ireland 2030, Ireland’s new national heritage plan. It will be a coherent, comprehensive and inspiring framework of values, principles, strategic priorities and actions to guide and inform the heritage sector over the next decade. Heritage Ireland 2030 will be published in the new year and will address priority issues for heritage that are identified in the Programme for Government.