Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 19 May 1987

Vol. 372 No. 10

National Monuments (Amendment) Bill, 1986 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I should like to congratulate Deputy Treacy on his recent appointment and to wish him the best of luck in his term of office. I am glad to have this opportunity of addressing the House on this Bill. I have already had an opportunity of addressing the Seanad, I am reasonably familiar with the Bill so I intend to be brief.

The Bill is most welcome and not before its time. It is a vast improvement on the existing Acts of 1930 and 1954. However, it is recognised that the Bill has limitations and that it will have to be improved as has been acknowledged by the Minister. The Bill is more of a stop gap and interim measure than the ultimate solution to the problem. However, if it succeeds in its main objectives, namely, the curbing of the use of metal detectors, the protection of our historical ruins, the setting up of a strong academically based historical monuments council and the compilation of a register of national monuments it will be very effective legislation and should have every opportunity of success.

The Bill has a special relevance to my own county. Kerry has a dense concentration of surviving archaeological field monuments and is rich in marine archaeology. Over 300,000 people visit the National Park, Killarney, Ross Castle and the Skellig Rock every year. These places are very popular with tourists and attract these great numbers every summer.

Prior to the publication of the Ordnance Survey six inch map in the 1840s, we knew very little about the destruction caused to our national monuments but it would propably have been worse in the eastern part of the country because of the level of agricultural activity. It would not have been as great in the west because of traditions and superstitions and also because it was believed that if you interfered with a fort, a curse would befall your family. These traditions have now died out and the religious aspect no longer protects forts. Over the last 15 years, especially since we joined the EC, the countryside has lost numerous ring forts. In the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, a recent survey revealed that since the six inch maps were produced in 1841, over 55 per cent of the ring forts in the Dingle Peninsula have gone from the countryside. Various surveys which have been carried out reveal that 70 per cent of the ring forts in the Cork harbour district have been destroyed. Professor Barry of Trinity College has carried out numerous surveys on marine archaeology. Research undertaken by him has shown that many of the 13th century and 14th century mediaeval moated sites — these are rectangular earthworks — have been destroyed. He carried out surveys in the early seventies in Counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Wexford and found that 52 per cent of all known moated sites had either been completely removed or greatly modified since the 1840s. Less than 20 moated sites out of a total of 750 have been protected by the current legislation. According to Professor Barry three of these protected sites have been levelled over the past 20 years and no prosecutions resulted.

The destruction rate of archaeological monuments evidently has increased in recent times. Hence the need for this Bill. The penalties for the destruction of archaeological sites and monuments needed to be updated. As previous speakers said, the 1930 and 1954 Acts were totally ineffective. I would like the Minister to inform the House how many successful prosecutions were made under the 1930 and 1954 Acts.

One of the main areas of concern in recent times has been the unrestricted use of metal detectors. Treasure hunting has become very popular since the discovery of the Derrynaflan Hoard. Evidence from reliable sources shows that bands of treasure hunters are operating throughout the country. Many of these groups are Irish but we are also attracting treasure hunters from the Continent. These people are very well organised and use modern equipment. They are fine combing various archaeological sites. For example, sites at Clonmacnoise and Cashel and other recognised archaeological sites have been centres of destruction by these people.

At a conference held recently in Dublin, concern was expressed by a number of people about treasure hunting and the lack of control over people using metal detectors. This supports my fear about the use of metal detectors. At this conference Michael Foster, secretary of the Union of Professional and Technical Civil Servants, said that very few treasure hunters reported finds and did so only on the basis of a sale. Of the known 170 treasure hunters only 11 have ever donated anything to the State. He said that these gangs are well organised and highly professional robbers who are clinically and systematically robbing this country of its prehistoric gold and silver and its Anglo-Saxon and Viking treasures.

At the same conference Mr. Edward Kelly of the National Museum echoed similar sentiments. Mr. Kelly claimed that Ireland is being actively promoted abroad, particularly in Germany, as a venue for illegal treasure hunting. According to Mr. Kelly it is estimated that even small scale operators can make £25,000 a year from the illegal export trade; yet the present maximum fine is only £50. The increase in fines which can now range up to £50,000 and a possible penalty of 12 months in prison on conviction should serve as a deterrent to would-be treasure hunters. However, the fact that the Garda have not been given power of search and seizure is a definite weakness in the legislation. I would like the Minister to clarify who will have power to prosecute. Will it be the Garda Síochána or the commissioners and what power will the Garda have in order to ensure convictions?

I want to refer again to the destruction of ring forts throughout the country and, in particular, in County Kerry. In most cases ring forts have been destroyed in the name of agricultural progress especially since we joined the EC. In many cases farmers have been advised to go ahead and bulldoze ring forts out of their property to allow ploughing or the movement of agricultural machinery to take place. It is vitally important that agricultural advisers especially are made aware of the damage being caused by the agricultural community to our national monuments. If farmers were made aware of the damage that is being done most of them would desist from levelling these forts.

The Ardagh Challice, one of our greatest treasures, was discovered in a ring fort very close to where I live in County Kerry. It was found by a young lad who was setting cabbage in the fort and it was a coincidence that he found it. Many other ring forts which have been destroyed could have contained similar treasure. However, no opportunity was given to have these sites excavated or surveyed. It is very important that the register of national monuments is drawn up as soon as possible and includes many ring forts that are of archaeological importance. The sooner this is done the better.

This Bill will ensure that a farmer or developer will have to inform the Commissers of Public Works at least two months in advance that he intends to carry out work on an archaeological site or area. This must be welcomed. However, in order to prevent the further loss of ring forts this legislation must be enacted as soon as possible and the national register must be brought up to date.

On the subject of underwater heritage, we are very fortunate in County Kerry to have a wealth of offshore wrecks. Some of these wrecks go back to the time of the visitors from the Nordic countries, others to the time of the various forces which came to the aid of Ireland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and others still to the time of the many ships that visited Ireland during their voyages across the Atlantic, many of which foundered off the Kerry coast. I will refer later to one of the bigger ships in the Spanish Armada, the Santa Maria De la Rosa, which now lies in 110 feet of water in the Blasket Sound.

Marine archaelogy has been neglected and if it were not for the activities of sports divers many wrecks would never have been discovered. It is now time for a co-ordinated policy on the excavation of historical wrecks. Up to now the approach has been totally haphazard. Amateur divers without any knowledge of what they were doing brought up many objects from the sea bed and as a result of exposure to the atmosphere these objects withered away. There is definite scope for many maritime museums to be established in Ireland. Going back to the Santa Maria De la Rosa, Henry Wignall who excavated the wreck promised at the time that he would set up a museum in Dingle to display these objects. However, there is no trace of either Mr. Wignall or the objects at this stage and I would like the Minister to outline where evenutally these important artefacts did end up.

Section 3 seeks to introduce controls to ensure that a satisfactory recovery and conservation procedure is followed but again, as has been mentioned, the emphasis seems to be on conservation rather than on excavation. Indeed, conservation alone is not enough. Many diving clubs are annoyed about this Bill. They must get credit for the work they have done in the past. They have located many wrecks and pointed out their location to the commission. However, this Bill will now restrict their work. As I have mentioned already, it is not good enough just to conserve something if we have not got a policy on excavation. Wrecks are just one aspect of underwater archaeology. Crannogs and early habitation sites have been preserved intact over many centuries by reason of being under water. I hope section 3 will provide adequate protection for this aspect of underwater archaeology also. Indeed, I do not see any reference in the Bill to crannogs and early habitation sites but no doubt I am sure they are covered in some way.

Having dealt with the subject of marine archaeology I would now like to refer briefly to archaeology in relation to our bogs. Again, I do not see any reference in the Bill to the preservation of our bogs which are known to have possessed archaeological objects. Indeed, excavation works in our bogs during the past 100 years or so have unearthed many gold, bronze and stone objects which were lost or buried there by ancient inhabitants of this country. Indeed, the National Museum have many splendid examples of jewellery, swords and domestic articles made from gold and bronze and discovered by people cutting turf in bogs. Some examples are the splendid necklace which was found at Derrybrien, County Galway, which I am sure Deputy Treacy is familiar with——

It is in my constituency.

——and also a gold dress fastener which was found in Killymoon, County Tyrone. In a bog near Cullen, County Tipperary, many bronze swords and unique gold objects were uncovered during the last century but unfortunately most of these objects were destroyed. The people who found them took them to the local jeweller following which most were melted down. Fortunately, some have survived.

I have already referred to the change in agricultural practices. We have progressed from very primitive agricultural practices to the use of heavy machinery. In bogs, we have progressed from the use of the slean to heavy turf cutting machinery. It is now rare to see people in a bog using the traditional slean. These big turf cutting machines have no respect for the objects they come across and usually if the object is not destroyed completely it is mangled to such a degree as to be beyond recognition as was the case when a crozier was discovered in a bog near Tullamore, County Offaly, quite recently. While I am on the topic, I would like to point out that one of the most treasured pieces of our early Christian art, the Moylough belt-shrine was found by someone cutting turf in County Sligo.

As I said, the slean has now been replaced by heavy machinery and I am sure we have lost out considerably as a result. It is very hard to prevent progress and I ask the Minister whether it is his intention under this Bill to declare certain bogs as archaeological areas? Numerous efforts have been made at preserving bogs for reasons such as preserving the fauna and flora which are to be found on them and so forth. Would the preservation of our bogs for archaeological purposes not be as good a reason? Does this Bill give the Minister the power to put preservation orders on bogs?

I have already referred to the register of historical monuments. Under the new Bill a register will be established and it gives rise to much concern that out of the 150,000 monuments in this country only 700 are under the care of the commissioners and restoration work is being carried out on 48 of these. It supports the case for the compilation as soon as possible of a national register of historical monuments. Various inventories have been made. For example, last year the then Minister, Deputy Doyle, launched the archaeological inventory of County Louth and also sites and monuments records of counties Meath, Carlow and Wicklow. Reports on the urban archaeology of surveys of Laois, Offaly and Dublin city were compiled. At the moment further sites and monuments surveys for Donegal and Wexford are in progress. It has been stated that by 1990 it is hoped that an inventory or register will be available for all the country, but this is a little ambitious at the rate of present progress.

No doubt, the Minister is aware of the work being carried out by AnCO at the moment in the line of numerous surveys throughout the country. For example, in County Kerry they have completed a survey in the Dingle peninsula, identifying many field monuments of whose existence people had been unaware. A survey is taking place at present in south Kerry and the Castleisland area and in my own area of north Kerry. I visited the office of the north Kerry survey quite recently. The people involved have discovered many promontory forts which traditionally were never associated with that area. These discoveries have been made mostly by means of aerial photography. Many archaeological sites and monuments not known of previously have been discovered.

I ask the commissioners to co-operate as much as possible with AnCO. When drawing up an inventory of County Kerry they should use the scientific material available to them from these surveys. That would, no doubt, save much money. There could be a greater role for AnCO in the preservation of many monuments, especially old ruins of castles, abbeys and churches. Many of our monuments are being weathered and eroded because of the lack of preservation. There could be a role for AnCO, under the supervision of the Office of Public Works, in this whole area. AnCO could, at least, plaster the tops of walls to prevent rain from percolating through, to eliminate freezethaw action which is a major destroyer of buildings. Ivy should be taken off some of these buildings because it is an agent of erosion and I can see a role for AnCO there. At the moment preservation is going on and Ross Castle is being renovated. However it has taken seven years to carry out this work.

If the commissioners are to get around to restoring all our national monuments, it will take a long time. There must be room for another agency to help with this type of work. The Minister could make inquiries. Recently during the course of a sewerage scheme in Listowel an old cave was discovered which had been in the folklore of the area. As in most circumstances like this, the cave was closed up. It links the old castle in Listowel with a similar type castle about half a mile away. I have been requested to ask the Minister if it would be possible for the commission to survey the site, trace the cave and make a record for the future.

I should like to comment briefly on the proposed new historical monuments council, which will replace the existing National Monuments Advisory Council. On the present advisory council I understand there are only two members within a line drawn from Galway to Dublin and certainly a number of people involved in the Kerry Archaeological Society have expressed reservations about the present membership of that council. They fear that on the future historical monuments council areas like Kerry will not be adequately represented. I realise that section 14 gives authorisation to local authorities to establish historical monuments advisory committees. However, from my experience on a local authority, most committees are very ineffective and I have no reason to feel that historical monuments advisory committees will be any different. If the membership is composed of county councillors with, in most cases, very little interest in our national monuments, the committees are doomed to failure.

I express reservations about the composition of the proposed membership of the new historical monuments council. Although it is strongly academically based, nevertheless it will suffer from the absence of lay people who in many cases have a lot more experience on the ground than academics who might research certain aspects of archaeology. These local historical monuments advisory committees should be composed of members of the general public. If they are to be effective, they should be composed of members of the teaching profession, especially history teachers, of agricultural services such as ACOT and the farm development services, the local archaeological societies, the legal profession and religious orders. It is important that they should be as widely representative as possible and that the committees are set up for the right reasons.

I sincerely hope that the Minister will emphasise as much as possible the importance of local authorities taking these local historical monuments advisory committees seriously. Very few local authorities established such committees and that is a pity. In my view most of the problems that surfaced in the past were due to ignorance and a lack of awareness of the importance of our historical monuments. The proposed advisory council should ensure that the public are educated about the value of our historical monuments. We should put an obligation on our younger people to preserve those monuments for future generations. It is a pity that in our schools whose curricula are exam orientated our children are not been made more aware of the historical importance of the many monuments that are in our country. There should be a greater emphasis on educating our young people about our historical past.

I notice that Deputy Doherty is anxious to make a contribution to the debate and I am sure he will deal with this topic in great detail because of his interest in tourism. It is worth noting that in 1985 more than 750,000 people visited our ancient monuments and heritage sites. More than 500,000 visited Glendalough. The Killarney National Park has proved very popular with visitors and last year more than 300,000 people visited it. It is important that we produce proper tourist guides so that visitors to our country do not have any difficulty in locating monuments and sites of historical interest. In most cases those sites are located in out-of-the-way places and it is difficult for strangers to find them.

Last year while in Crete I visited the Palace of Knossos and while I found it to be a wonderful site I do not think it can compare with some Irish sites. I had to queue for three hours to visit the place and pay a hefty charge. I suggest that our monuments and historical sites be supervised at all times to prevent souvenir hunters damaging them. Coming from an area that is steeped in history I recognise the importance of a piece of legislation like this and I hope it will get a speedy passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas. I expect that its provisions will curtail the activities of those who use metal detectors in their search for items of historical interest. The penalties listed in the Bill should prove a deterrent to such people.

It is pleasing to note the unanimity in the House in regard to this legislation. That reflects the importance Members attach to the preservation of monuments and sites of historical significance. It is encouraging to note that many Members have devoted a lot of time preparing their contributions for this debate. I accept the view of the Minister of State that he would like to have gone further in the legislation but because he had to comply with judicial decisions he had to confine the provisions in the Bill. However, it represents a major step forward. I hope we will awaken in the minds of the public a greater concern for the protection of our national monuments. I appreciate the importance of our monuments to the tourist industry and I am aware that the numbers visiting those attractions is rising annually. Other countries have attractions for visitors but very few of them have historical monuments like Ireland. We should give our visitors an opportunity to study and appreciate our heritage which is the key to understanding Irish men and women and why we are so great in many respects.

Every effort should be made to ensure we do not let down our side by our failure to appreciate in a voluntary and in a statutory way the importance of our monuments and historical sites. Over 660,000 people visit historic sites. It is essential that the sites are maintained and developed and that they contain what they are advertised to contain. That scenario can be achieved through the protection and preservation work undertaken. A number of speakers have referred to the role of the National Manpower Service but the Office of Public Works have the overall responsibility. One of the difficulties is that many cultural bodies and organisations have a very legitimate role in relation to our heritage and there is a tendency to pass the buck from one to the other. Later I will give a specific example of that in relation to a well known monument in my constituency.

In Europe, as far back as 1980 there was a conference on the theme of Tourism and Conservation. This was later followed by the European Architectural and Heritage Conference which was held in Brussels in March 1980 and which was organised under the auspices of the Council of Europe. The Commission arranged a special session entitled Tourism and Conservation and the theme included architectural heritage as a tourist attraction, and as a source of financial support to conserve buildings. This was of significant interest and importance. Europe has a lot to offer and hopefully after the referendum next week we will become more politically unified with Europe and I expect that we will place a greater emphasis on our buildings and on our ancient monuments and that we will recognise how important it is to protect them.

We must recognise that tourism by its nature is a threat to many monuments. Visitors coming in large numbers to visit a national monument pose a serious risk for the monuments. We should ensure a certain degree of protection where large numbers of tourists pose a risk. Tourist activity can provide new uses for old buildings. We could take encouragement from Bunratty Castle, Ashford House and such places which are a part of our heritage but which now cater for tourists. We should use our buildings in such a way as to protect and maintain them and to give something special to the tourism industry. Bord Fáilte should have a special role in this. The tourism industry should be able to contribute directly towards the protection and maintenance of our heritage and should enhance its quality. Formal arrangements should be made to establish liaison between official tourist bodies and bodies concerned with conservation of our national heritage.

National tourism plans and programmes should include our national heritage as a tourist resource. It would be worthwhile achieving co-operation between the Office of Public Works and the Regional Tourism Organisation. Where we have national monuments in tourist regions, the Regional Tourism Organisation and the Office of Public Works should be involved in protecting and promoting the national monument. It is important that tourist organisations contribute to the programmes for conservation of our heritage. There is a financial dimension here. If the Office of Public Works are aware of a national monument or a piece of architectural heritage in a tourist area they should co-operate with the Regional Tourism Organisation in the promotion of that area.

There is no point in having something of architectural value and importance and in maintaining it, without giving it prominence so that it can be appreciated and paid for by visitors. It is important that there should be a clear link between the economic benefit each county receives from tourism and the scale of public expenditure on conservation of archaeological sites and buildings. We recognise the enormous task imposed on Government at the moment, the scarcity of money and the importance of protecting our national monuments and of ensuring that those which have an economic importance to our tourist industry are developed and given the maximum prominence. The interpretation of conservation is the cornerstone of the conservation and protection of our historic buildings and sites. If we do not understand, appreciate and generally have a feel for this work, we will not have the commitment necessary to give the right type of protection and support.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the Office of Public Works and their Minister for the quality of the guides who are working at various centres throughout the country. They appear to have been very carefully selected and to have a specific understanding of what they are about. They do not display a mechanical or robot-type of deportment or demeanour in bringing visitors around the various sites. The OPW are to be commended on the thorough manner in which they selected these people. I hope this will continue. This is a wonderful method of ensuring that people who visit these sites will be informed in a special way and thus gain a respect for the sites. From time to time we have all found ourselves in a queue waiting to visit a monument in a foreign country and because the guides there communicate so effectively the importance of what we are to see we remember our visit and become part of the protectorate of such monuments.

The importance of theme should not be forgotten. It is desirable that we should have at these sites some information available on the appropriate theme. I have in mind the illustration of the life of St. Kevin at Glendalough which is very much appreciated by visitors since it gives them an in-depth understanding of the importance of the place. Audio-visual aids, booklets and postcards are also important, but when a visitor becomes aware of the historical theme of a place a special intimacy develops.

In my constituency there is on Lough Key the burial place of Úna Bhán, bláth na ndlaoi ómra/do fuair sí bás de bharr droch chomhairle, a most beautiful poem which has been put to music. It recounts the special romantic conditions prevailing at that time. Perhaps it has a special relevance in a world which has a more false type of romance than had people of her period. Certainly it would be important to illustrate that theme in Lough Key. I will be speaking later on this point in another context. I hope that the OPW will bear in mind the theme value of these sites in developing public appreciation and awareness.

There are many islands in Lough Key — some say there are 32, one for each county. Castle Island consists of one rood and 29 perches. It has a number of 13th century buildings built by McDermott of the Rock. The OPW own the island and the forestry people own the buildings, while the jetty is also the responsibility of the OPW. This small island which you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, visited——

I had the benefit of the personal enlightment and guidance offered by the Deputy himself.

Thank you. I hope I shall have a further opportunity to extend that to you in the future.

I think we will end the commercials now.

An area of one rood and 29 perches should not be the responsibility of two Government Departments, both of which are highly respected bodies with individual Ministers of State, separate headquarters and specialised functions and duties. It is not sensible that they should be engaged in the management, control, protection and development of one rood and 29 perches. Bord Fáilte are probably involved in the marketing context.

I should like the OPW to have overall responsibility for sites of importance. If this legislation gives the OPW a very special role, surely that role should not be made more bureaucratically difficult by involving another State Department. We all know what it takes to establish communication between Departments of State. Those of us in public life know that to pull the strands together can be a mammoth task. I hope the Minister will consider the realistic prospect of giving the OPW overall responsibility in these areas. I give Castle Island and Trinity Island on Lough Key as examples. The ruin of an old abbey and the burial place of Úna Bhán are there. There is a crypt and, believe it or not, to my regret I have been told that some of the remains are exposed in that crypt. That can only be as a result of neglect.

Again the two bodies are involved. It is not good enough that such a site of special importance, special heritage and cultural and historic value should be unprotected and that we should have to await the introduction of this Bill for an opportunity to express this idea. I would prefer if I did not have to say this, though what I am saying will be understood not as a criticism of either of the bodies involved or of their personnel, but maybe it will encourage the OPW to establish their position of responsibility thoroughly in these areas and ensure that the necessary steps will be undertaken. Local authorities, regional tourism organisations, the Department of Fisheries and Forestry, the OPW, Bord na Móna, AnCO, the list is almost endless; so many organisations are involved that it is difficult to know which has the ultimate responsibility.

The burial place of O'Carolan is in County Roscommon and I have on more than one occasion asked Roscommon County Council to make a preservation order in respect of the site of the cemetery where he is buried. O'Carolan is important, certainly in the musical and cultural area and he has been described as the last of the bards. I find it most frustrating that the local authorities say they cannot do what I ask, that it is the job of the OPW. In so far as I had communication with an official the OPW did not say that it was the responsibility of the local authority, but nothing happened in this regard. I hope that the importance of this site will be realised.

Apart from the O'Carolan burial place, many cemeteries have very special importance. We should not lose them because of lack of protection, lack of finances or lack of public awareness. In so far as it is possible we should try to stimulate local interest if only by the OPW identifying these historic sites and maybe producing short documents about them perhaps in consultation with local historical or archaeolgoical societies, or through their proposed new committees or in any way possible ensuring that people become involved in certain works under schemes at present in operation. Genealogists do much of their research and investigation in ancient cemeteries reading the inscriptions on headstones. Many of those headstones because of erosion in the course of years are in such a state of disrepair that it is quite difficult to ascertain what exactly the inscriptions convey. Lack of public awareness and of civic education in recent years has resulted in many of these places being forgotten and consequently public appreciation of them in local communities is not evident to the extent that it should be.

I have noticed in many parts of the country a great rush to build community centres or to obtain grants for that purpose. Very few places in my constituency do not have a community hall; unfortunately, we do not have the communities. Many of them have been decimated by emigration. We could have economic development by doing some of the things that will protect our heritage as places of opportunity for people to visit. If we promote them in that way we can generate economic life for the community, and then the community hall can be built, paid for and occupied by them, and not be, as many halls are today, just places for the occasional card game during the winter and not important to the extent that they should be to the community.

This Bill seeks to develop and protect many things that would contribute to our economic development and recovery and many of the people who will help in this will be found in the local communities. Education of our young people, particularly in this regard, is absolutely essential. Young people have a very special role to play in this area. We are no better or worse in certain regards than our neighbouring countries in Europe, and we should never loose an opportunity to look at, for instance, Great Britain, our nearest neighbour, or France, another country in Europe with a wonderful wealth of culture and heritage, much of it undamaged during the last war. We should look at what the youth particularly in these countries are doing. Britain has the National Trust, and I understand that a heritage education group was set up about 1976 and funded by the environment department there. It is administered by the Civic Trust and a number of voluntary, unpaid members are involved. Their aim is to develop the younger generation's understanding of the general importance of heritage and the environment and in that way encourage interest.

Heritage education is vital for our young people, and in Britain at least teachers and school children are involved in the project I have mentioned. Here, through the good offices of the OPW, we might seek to involve the Department of Education through the schools in giving some part of the school time and curriculum to real civics. That will contribute to the correct attitude of mind towards pollution, littering our streets, tidiness and protection of the environment generally. We might also consider the initiation of projects, work camps, as they are called in France, in which young people could be engaged throughout the easter, summer and winter holidays, enhancing their talents, interest and awareness through their normal schooling. All of those essential ingredients could be put to work in developing or improving sites, centres, old buildings, whatever. It is my belief that there would be an enormous response to any such proposal. It would also ensure the involvement of students outside this country, those from the continent or the State. It should be remembered that there has been an enormous growth in the search for culture in the United States. That is understandable. Not all visitors from the States come here because of an Irish connection. There are those who can be described as pure tourists who come here in the belief that they will find a very special product, that being our heritage. The involvement of foreign students in such schemes would cause an awareness — beyond this country — of what we have by way of cultural heritage.

That type of participation on a wider scale in the carrying out of such works, or projects undertaken in various places would have a very special, meaningful educational role for young people. The bodies involved, particularly the Office of Public Works, and perhaps local authorities and Bord Fáilte might have their officials sit round a table to ascertain what type of scheme could be devised that would allow for greater participation and involvement of young people, projects that would ensure we have protected, developed sites that can be visited in the knowledge that they are what they are advertised to be. We are often told or read about an important site but, when one gets there, one finds it bears no resemblance whatsoever to its advertisement or indeed to comments made about it in some brochures in circulation. I would recommend that to the Office of Public Works as a possible method of securing the greater involvement of young people, and those from abroad with an interest, that would give them a legitimate reason for returning here. It would also afford them an opportunity to bring home to their respective countries an appreciation of what we have but, above all else, to be part of the global process, of protecting our heritage.

The protection of our heritage is really an extension of the arts. It is perhaps unfortunate that we have never had a real arts policy, so that all of the cultural, heritage and historical values that have such meaning could be used to portray us for what we really are, a people of scholarship, of learning, who contributed much to the Continent of Europe and other parts of the world. All of that evidence can be found in the ruins of our ancient monuments and historical sites. It is absolutely essential that we emerge once again, and demonstrate that past, using it as something which properly represents what we are today.

Such an endeavour would be a worthwhile departure from some of the horrific violence we must endure at home and often witness in broadcasts in other countries. I have often wished we had the capacity to promote all of the special qualities that are inherent in our historical past, which are to be found in enormous quantities in ruins, archaeological sites, artefacts and ancient monuments.

This Bill is important in many respects; the Register of Historic Monuments being a new and important provision which has been mentioned by many speakers. One of its important features is the fact that, under the provisions of the 1954 Act, a vendor was not obliged to inform a purchaser of the existence of a national monument, an archaeological site or ruin. That new provision constitutes a positive and worthwhile step in the right direction. Its introduction does not suggest that people ignored what was there in the past but the fact that such notification was not obligatory meant it was often overlooked. For that reason, the provisions of section 5 are to be particularly commended.

One organisation I should like to see involved to a greater extent in this area — I know they are being encouraged to become involved in agri-tourism — is the Irish Farmers' Association. Indeed in some respects we are fortunate to have some of our archaeological sites or ruins remaining at all because of the progress made in agriculture, farm development and so on. There is a considerable awareness of their value among members of the IFA. I should like to think that we could encourage greater involvement and participation by them, generating an even greater awareness of the importance of such sites found in rural areas, often on farms. Their importance to the individual farmer, the community and the country at large must be stressed. Certainly they are important from the point of view of agri-tourism.

While ensuring the implementation of the provisions of section 5 we might also emphasise the importance of generating an awareness among our farming community, on a voluntary basis with the co-operation of the IFA which I am sure would be readily forthcoming. I have no doubt but that there would be a genuine and real interest shown in this regard. It would be desirable that we invite the participation of the IFA in a positive way.

Section 4 provides for the establishment by order of a council to be known as the Historic Monuments Council. I note that all monuments pre-1700 are to be described as historic ones. The proposing of the council is a very positive step. It will consist of representative from different groups — the universities, Bord Fáilte, the Royal Irish Academy, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, the marine institute and the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. The involvement of all these people must be a real boost to the aim of the Office of Public Works because it brings highly enlightened and eminent people, as well as others, into the cultural area. The fact that we have widened the scope of involvement to include these bodies is a very realistic step and one that is to be commended.

There is an emotive side to the Bill in section 3. We talk about metal detectors and the problems we have witnessed in recent years in regard to their use but we have to take into account that while they are a symptom of modern technology, they are also a symptom of the "get rich quick" mentality. Meandering through an old ruin on a Sunday afternoon with a metal detector may in some instances be well intentioned but in most circumstances it has been found to be an act of vandalism. The penalties proposed in this Bill are right and proper and I hope the courts will bring to bear the maximum penalties of the law against people who, in any way, damage or do injury to our archaeological sites which make a very special contribution to this country. We cannot afford to lose that.

In section 3 it is proposed to ban the use of metal detectors. The protection afforded under this section is to be welcomed. The public are thankful for this provision. I hope the Minister, through provision. I hope the Minister, through his Department, will constantly urge the public to become the protectors and the watchdogs of our archaeological sites. They should regard themselves as acting as responsible citizens in reporting behaviour that conflicts with the spirit of this Bill.

Section 6 relates to by-laws, commissioners and local authorities. Where historic sites are visited by vast numbers of people there should be some charge. If we are to see a growth in visits from people at home and abroad to sites of particular significance or importance it is absolutely essential that we provide, at these sites, facilities for those visitors. I understand that by-laws can be made by commissioners and local authorities and I hope that this opportunity in law will be availed of. A failure to maximise the good effects of this Bill in the immediate future would be irresponsible and would leave us lacking in years to come.

Section 8 proposes that people authorised by the commissioners will be allowed enter lands for the purposes of surveying or carrying out research on sites. The Minister will probably be the first to agree that there has been a very good relationship between the Office of Public Works and people who have historic sites on their lands. We should not miss the opportunity to thank the farming community for the facility they afforded to the Office of Public Works down the years. This section is not intended to be anything other than to deal with the unusual. Persons so authorised by the commissioners should at all times be allowed to visit these historic sites.

One of the most important sites in the country is to be found in County Roscommon, at Rathcroghan. It is fortunate that the farmers in that area contributed so much to this site and also that grazing rather than tillage farming has been undertaken there. Otherwise quite considerable damage would have been done to the Rathcroghan site which is over 2,000 years old. It is sad to think that no survey of any significance has been carried out on that site or on the ring barrows. They are found in particular at Tara and Eamhain Macha and also at Rathcroghan. I understand there are almost 81 ring forts at Rathcroghan. It has an importance equivalent to that of Tara. I accept that the Office of Public Works recognise the importance of this site but I am concerned that they might not make a very special effort to do what is necessary to develop the site and to ensure its protection.

In olden times the site was an assembly and burial place. It was very much involved with the cattle raid at Cooley, an Táin Bó Cuailnge. It has links from the past with Medb agus Daithí. It was the last High Kingship of the O'Connor kings of Ireland. Phelim Ó Conaire was inaugurated as Árd Rí there in 1310. It has enormous importance and potential. Greater significance should be placed on this site by the Office of Public Works. It is not enough just to say it will be there in ten, 15 or 20 years' time. It cannot continue to enjoy the type of protection it had in the past. As a result of that protection very few people knew of its existence, with the exception, of course, of the local community and in fairness to them they offered it considerable protection.

It is not unusual now to see school tours and visitors from at home and abroad visiting the site. It is essential that the Office of Public Works take the necessary steps to ensure that this site is protected. It will be availed of and it would be a pity that a totally uncontrolled approach would be taken to the use of the site and the enjoyment and facilities the site offers, to the extent that we would not set down controls to protect it. It should have some proper controls and protections. Otherwise it can be damaged. We should move in that direction right away.

There are many sites and areas of archaeological importance in the country. I was interested to hear Deputy Deenihan refer to our bogs, which are in decline. Anybody who had the pleasure of reading David Bellamy's book about Irish bogs cannot but have been awakened to the importance of many of our bogs. I understand that in recent times the Office of Public Works have taken the necessary steps to protect certain bogs, not only because they may contain important archaeological material but also because they may contain the remains of very special flora. We should equate certain bogs which are very unique — apart from their archaeological uniqueness — with our historic monuments and archaeological sites under this Bill. We should do something before it is too late. I would like to think we could provide special protection for certain bogs. On the Mayo-West Roscommon border we have a bog which contains an extraordinary wealth of plant life which I understand escaped glaciation during the ice age. I am sure there are bogs in the midlands and in other regions which should be afforded similar protection.

Some bog land is noted for its importance to wild life. I do not want to be seen to be in conflict with the Forest and Wildlife Service, but it is worth considering whether the Office of Public Works should be involved or have responsibility in this area, because many of the areas we are talking about are synonymous with wild life activity which is very important from the tourist point of view. I am reliably informed that there are over 1.5 million people in Great Britain alone who are interested in ornithology and Ireland is a very special place for them because a very high percentage of birds which migrate to Europe come to Ireland, and many of them to the west. This is another area which we might consider covering in this Bill. I am not informed enough to say how this should be approached, but we should not miss this opportunity to provide wider protection for our bog lands.

The international fund, which has come into existence through the Anglo-Irish Accord, has a very special place in urban renewal and the development of certain towns in the Border counties. I believe that fund should be extended to all Twenty-Six Counties thereby allowing an opportunity for certain important buildings to be protected. If we do not do something about these buildings soon, they will become ruins. The international fund is significant for counties adjoining the Border, with the exception of Sligo which in the strictest sense is not a Border county, but some of this finance should be made available to the Office of Public Works to develop historic buildings outside the Border counties.

I know a number of houses which could benefit from this fund. I visited one this morning, the old Packenham-Mahon home in Strokestown, County Roscommon, which is 300 years old and in private ownership. A giant step has been taken by the owners to try to restore it but there is no grant or other money available and this building does not come within the terms of reference of the international fund. It is a pity buildings like this are likely to fall into ruin because they are outside the scope of the fund. It is important that this fund should be extended to cover the whole country.

I am sure many people, including the Office of Public Works, would agree that the admittance fees to many fine houses — such as the home of Countess Markievitz which is open to the public — do no more than contribute to the cost of keeping them. These houses which are open to the public do not bring in enough money to carry out even normal maintenance. Another look will have to be taken at the financing of such houses and we must ensure that enough money will be provided for them. As regards sites which make a profit, does that money go back to them after the Office of Public Works have deducted their costs? I do not know. It should be used for the protection of our archaeological and historical sites. We should identify the amounts involved so that we can develop and improve the quality of our heritage.

The Bill does not state — this is not a criticism, merely an observation — the type of help, if any, available to the owners of historic ruins or other monuments, or if they can receive official assistance. There is no point in placing a preservation order on a ruin or anything else if it is allowed to erode in front of our eyes. Having given it protection status, there must be financial involvement by the State or some other agency to ensure that protection will be afforded where individual owners of such sites do not have the necessary finance to do it themselves. Indeed, it would be impossible for many owners, if not all, to foot the bill themselves. The Bill does not contain provision for any official assistance to preserve or enhance the part of our heritage which is owned by individuals.

The majority of our historic sites and monuments do not have State protection. In many instances this is left to planning authorities who have no funds so we must depend on the goodwill of developers and land owners to watch over and protect our heritage. Something more positive than reliance on goodwill is needed because, even with goodwill, it is not possible to ensure the level of protection required. The Office of Public Works are involved in carrying out works on sites where the building has virtually fallen. It is a question of pointing walls and trying to hold together what is left of the ruin. In close proximity to such ruins, there might be a building of special importance and significance which has been overlooked and if steps were taken to safeguard all such buildings many more could be saved.

The Bill is a step in the right direction. The Office of Public Works must now seek to educate the public and to involve themselves to a greater extent in that role. They should also seek greater participation by the Department of Education and Bord Fáilte in the development of sites, the identification of their use and maximising their gains. The revenue generated locally should, as far as possible, be returned to individual sites. It is also important that people in local communities should form themselves into advisory committees. We are talking about statutory provision for such committees and about the involvement of local authorities and representatives of various organisations. Even on a parish level it is worth considering setting them up on a voluntary basis. These people would be an extended limb of the Office of Public Works; they would contribute, support and cultivate a knowledge and awareness and maximise the value and importance of these sites. It is all very well passing legislation but, unless people are involved, it will not work. It would pay the Office of Public Works to engage upon a county by county exercise of encouraging local committees by advertisements, speaking to people and generating the kind of interest which would be most beneficial.

Our canals are now within the scope of the Office of Public Works. They are national and historic monuments to a period of commerce, social conditions and politics. They have a very special link with all three. Their use in tourism cannot be over-emphasised and I am delighted with the role of the Office of Public Works in this regard. However, we must ensure greater protection for canals because individuals and organisations have interfered with them to the extent that they have been damaged or altered irreversibly. I hope we will recognise their importance; I am thinking of the Grand Canal and its route into Ballinasloe which is in promimity to the Minister of State. In the past we noted with sadness that a portion has been closed for necessary development. There should have been greater public awareness and discussion at the time when perhaps an alternative method of development might have been found. I just make that point because I am conscious of the Minister's concern about the development and protection of canals as a major source of potential and enjoyment for so many people. It is worth considering in the context of national monuments.

Many people have stated from time to time the importance of having an opportunity to inspect and enjoy visually so many of our artefacts which are locked up in the National Museum and in this House.

I am glad to see that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle has returned because I want to take this opportunity to compliment him — and this is not a commercial — on taking a special interest in attempting to ensure that many of these artefacts were restored and returned to the counties from which they came, or to other counties where they could be exhibited on a special occasion or for a particular period of time. An enormous amount of our heritage and culture is locked away.

Transporting these artefacts to the capital city and locking them in a basement is not the proper way to achieve protection for them. It is a negative approach. It is not in the spirit of the intention to protect them and does not allow a maximum opportunity for public awareness to be generated. I understand the difficulties involved in exhibiting these artefacts from the point of view of insurance, vandalism, control and responsibility for certain very special and important artefacts. However we should be mature enough to face up to the fact that the attitude of this generation and the next generation towards our heritage and culture will depend on how we understand and appreciate them now. We should seriously consider the relocation of some artefacts while at the same time having regard to the difficulties involved. We should ensure that we provide the maximum opportunity to have them exhibited to the public on important occasions.

One of the areas we should take into account when we are talking about national monuments and heritage is the development, in a regional sense, of an agricultural museum. With a departure from traditional farming methods and the enormous urbanisation of our population, 33 per cent of the total population live in Dublin. This is higher than in any other European capital. The traditional methods of farming have disappeared. We know what a horse and a donkey look like but many of the implements and tools which were linked to them could not be named by the children of today. It is desirable that when we speak about our heritage we should take into account the importance of protecting that aspect of it. Exhibits of these implements and tools — some of which are still in the country and others in Dublin — should be available to the public.

If we want to achieve an improvement in attitudes in any area, whether it is against violence, pollution and littering or whether it is for the arts, crafts, culture and heritage we must look towards our youth. I compliment our youth in every respect. From my experience they are young men and women who appreciate the value of our heritage and culture not alone to us as a people but also to the countries of Europe and to the world.

I will be relatively brief because I do not want to regurgitate the many arguments which have been made. Virtually everything which could be said has been said about this measure. I congratulate the Minister of State, Deputy Treacy, on his elevation to junior ministerial position. It is very gratifying as a westerner to see somebody in such a sensitive area given the function of piloting this important measure safely through the House.

I welcome this Bill. Any measure that is designed to protect or preserve our heritage and culture must be welcomed. This Bill sets out to do this. It establishes definitions and parameters; it outlaws the usage of certain objects and types of equipment; it lays down penalties for breaches of regulations. Therefore, its purpose is good. It is a vast improvement on existing legislation and it greatly extends the scope of existing legislation.

While it goes a considerable way towards redressing many of the defects, deficiencies and loopholes that exist, there are some gaps and defects and a certain amount of tightening up is required. I congratulate the previous Minister of State, Deputy Avril Doyle, on having had the initiative to bring this long overdue measure before the previous Seanad.

This Bill is long overdue. For years we have wrung our hands collectively in futile anguish and open horror at the despoliation of so many of our historical monuments, sites, artefacts, etc. In many cases we have presided over the wilful neglect of many of these valuable properties. We are different from other countries in the amount of esteem we have for our heritage. This is a very sad indictment, first, of our educational system and, secondly, the degree of input the civics course has in relation to teaching people a full and thorough appreciation of our heritage and our history.

We have failed miserably to inculcate a proper sense of values for our heritage. Various acts of ravage and despoliation of sites have been chronicled time and time again in this House, in the newspapers, on radio and on television. For example, at Carrowntemple near Gurteen in County Sligo five early Christian grave slabs were discovered to be missing and they turned up in the yard of an antique dealer somewhere. Objects were taken from Knockmore and Knockirvin in County Sligo. When they were found the excuse given by the person was that they were taken for their own protection.

There is the ongoing saga of the Derrynaflan Chalice which I cannot comment on as the proceedings are sub judice and in every townland in the country there are many examples of objects being destroyed or finding their way into the wrong hands. For example, in my own townland of Ballyhaunis in County Mayo a beautiful Bronze Age sword was found during the drainage of the River Moy and was bartered for two or three packets of cigarettes. I think that sword is now in an attic somewhere in County Limerick unadmired, out of sight and out of mind. We do not even know if it has been properly preserved or if the necessary curative treatment has been carried out.

As Deputy Doherty, Deputy Deenihan and other speakers have said, many ring forts have been flattened by hy-macs and JCBs. Objects are disappearing, if not by the day certainly by the week. We are very much into the season for such despoliation and damage. When it comes to the harvesting of crops many farmers, either wittingly or unwittingly, participate in acts of considerable destruction or vandalism. There are two cures for this. First, there is public education and awareness and, secondly, there are the legal remedies we are addressing in the House today. Apart from the underexploited role of education from primary level right through to third level, a massive campaign on both radio and television is long overdue to point out the priceless value of these artefacts and objects and to point out also the legal requirements which will come into force when this Bill has finally passed through the House and been signed by the President.

Deputy Doherty and previous speakers referred to the national monuments committees. These do enormous good at local authority level, when they undertake the work they were established to do. However, as Deputy Doyle said, the vast majority of local authorities do not bother to constitute their national monuments committees. While those who have such committees do not always put them in operation in terms of having regular meetings to monitor what is going on in the county and in terms of keeping a general eye on the situation. These committees could do an enormous amount of work within their local authority jurisdictions.

When we look at the Estimates for the various local authorities we find, and have to acknowledge to our shame, that the allocations to the national monuments committees and to the preservation of monuments are only a pittance, that is, if any such allocation has been made in the first place. I concur entirely with the tributes which have been paid in this House to the work carried out by AnCO under expert supervision in relation to the restoration of various monasteries and archaeological sites etc. The key to the success of such work is that it must be carried out under expert professional supervision. I want to pay tribute to local communities and local archaeological groups who have in the past filled a very valuable void and vacuum in relation to the preservation of such monuments.

The raison d'être of this Bill was brought about by the recent expansion of the seeking of archaeological artefacts and valuable museum pieces for commercial gain. Treasure hunting has become a very worthwhile and rewarding past-time if some of the decisions which have been handed down in some recent court cases in relation to the value of such artefacts can be taken as a signpost for such activities. We all know that there are genuine people who go out looking for such objects, from a sense of history and a genuine sense of inquiry. At least that was the pattern in the past but there is now a new breed of treasure hunter who has been drawn in by nothing more than pecuniary or mercenary wishes in the first place.

This Bill is particularly targeted at restricting the use of metal detectors. Section 2 makes it obligatory to have the written consent of the Commissioners of Public Works before using a metal detector in search of archaeological objects. I am genuinely concerned about the efficacy of this section of the Bill. How can it be proved that a person in a field and in possession of a metal detector is in pursuit of archaeological objects? Could he not, for example, be looking for his wedding ring or his wife's engagement ring or could he not be trying out the instrument? Could he not use such excuse as a bona fide reason for possessing a metal detector? I do not in any way advocate draconian legislation but I believe that this section is much too loose and I urge that on Committee Stage some amendments be accepted in order to tighten up the section.

Vast areas of the countryside which have rich unexplored potential are not designated as archaeological sites. According to this measure you can ramble with a metal detector and with impunity on to any unrestricted site or field which has not been designated as a preserved site in pursuit of objects other than archaeological artefacts etc. I also question whether it is wise that the other section dealing with sites on which there are preservation orders is rigid or stringent enough. A person, according to this Bill, is not permitted to use a metal detector at a protected site if it is assumed that he is looking for archaeological artefacts but the section continues with the words, "unless the contrary is proved." Why would anyone have a metal detector on a protected site in the first place other than for the naked purpose of seeking treasure trove which he thinks by reason of the designation of the site, may be there? Laxity or flexibility is going to prove grist to the mill of the legal protession. I can imagine lawyers spending hours in court arguing over the purpose or intent of the presence of a person on the site and over the usage of the instrument in question. My own instincts — I think these would be shared by those in the National Museum — are that the use of such instruments should be banned entirely as I do not believe they can be properly controlled or policed. The exception would be that the licence be given only to somebody who is using the particular instrument or object in the course or pursuit of his or her business or profession.

The Bill referred specifically to a metal detector and I wonder if this is too precise a definition. Should it not be broadened to include any other technical or scientific apparatus for the purpose of unearthing, undermining, locating, or finding archaeological objects? Like the other speakers, I welcome section 5 of the Bill in that it provides for the setting up of a register of historic monuments. That section also provides for the making of further additions to that register. This is something to be welcomed. Sligo is supposed to have 5,000 sites, Donegal to have 2,000. I venture to suggest that in nine or ten years' time, with the acceleration of interest, the sites in Donegal will have doubled in number. Deputy Enright referred to a survey being carried out at present by the Office of Public Works which, as a result of new techniques such as aerial photography, etc, is unearthing and discovering a spate of archaeological artefacts, finds, sites and monuments hitherto undetected or unappreciated.

I have nothing but the height of admiration for the work done by the National Museum and the Office of Public Works. I concur entirely with Deputy Doherty that many of the objects now stored in the basements, attics, or additional storage space in the National Museum should be displayed somewhere. I can think of no better place for them than in the locale in which they were discovered in the first place, first, from the point of view of making them available and, secondly, of generating and stimulating interest at local level among schoolchildren and among the public at large, creating a public awareness of the historical scenario in which these were discovered. This would be a very obvious and valuable prop to the Bill in question. It would counter the negligent attitude of the public at large in relation to a failure to appreciate these artefacts.

I was a schoolteacher before going into public life. From time to time I threw out the idea among the schoolchildren of their perhaps having at home any objects or artefacts, axe heads, arrow heads, stone heads, etc. My school bench has been filled with such objects, along with spears, swords, etc. These were conveyed carefully to the National Museum and they were treated, labelled and stored away. One can imagine the dismay of those schoolchildren when they come to the National Museum on school tours and there is no trace or sign of the objects which to them are of particular significance — a find of their lifetime. They are not seen in any of the glass cases because of the curtailment of storage space. There is no better way to stimulate, first, interest and, secondly, respect than in the decentralisation of the National Museum and the setting up of provincial museums.

The most spectacular stretch of cliff edge in Ireland is at Céide on the north coast of Mayo, five miles from Ballycastle. Virtually all tourists who travel this route stop at the cliff top and view the road from the 360 foot high cliff, take their photographs and then drive on. They leave the area, totally unaware they have stopped in the middle of the most extensive neolithic site in Europe. This site is also known to be the earliest example of enclosed fields in Europe. Over 1,000 acres of this hill were cleared of forest, divided up into regular fields and farmed by Stone Age farmers over 5,000 years ago. There are two sites at Céide, which have been remarked on very favourably by people of the calibre of Durham Professor David Bellamy, Cambridge Professor Coles and our own Professor Séamus Caulfield. The tributes that have been paid to this site seem to have fallen on deaf ears as regards development. If ever there was a site crying out for the establishment of an environmental heritage centre it is this site at Céide in the Ballycastle area of north Mayo.

I should like to see hand-in-hand with the heritage centre the setting up of an interpretative centre also. Archaeological remains from 5,000 years ago do not speak for themselves and a centre to provide information on site is absolutely essential. One could set out there in clear detail why the archaeological remains are important, how they came to be buried under the bog in the first place, how the bog was formed and how it was exploited. These are all questions which could be answered in an exciting manner by old and new methods of presentation such as wall charts, photographs, models, videos, guided tours, etc. This development has been commended and recommended by the three people who have examined the site and taken an interest in it. In a letter on 28 December 1985 Professor Coles of Cambridge said the idea was very commendable. I quote:

By creating some type of public community in the area, the gradual awareness of its unique character can be made possible.

He goes on to state:

It would surely qualify for European support in terms of heritage conservation.

The north Mayo site is but one of many which we have in this country and which need protection. Every single Member of this House can refer to his or her own neck of the woods and point to the need for development and preservation.

However, of all the sites — and this is concurred with by the three experts whom I have mentioned — the developed site of Céide would have a major educational and tourist potential in an area which requires some focus to draw tourists. What more appropriate location could one have within easy striking distance of the Connacht Regional Airport. This should become the showpiece for tourists — the presentation of one of the oldest farms in Europe.

Some time ago Dr. Lucas, late director of the National Museum, said:

The heritage of Europe is hanging on the walls of the art galleries of Europe. The heritage of Ireland is buried in the ground.

How true this is and how greatly it focuses on the need for this legislation.

Again, I welcome the broad thrust of this legislation, but I should like to see a tightening up. I do not favour draconian measures, but I have a major reservation in relation to the length of time taken to obtain a preservation order. A member of the Garda Síochána or somebody from the Office of Public Works receives a report that damage is being done to a particular site. Somebody from the Garda Síochána or the Office of Public Works visits the site, and has to make a report on the matter but it takes from one week to three, at a minimum, to get a preservation order. It is my belief that the time lag is too great. Very often when somebody is detected destroying an object of historical importance they unwisely undertake corrective work ultimately doing more damage to the object than if the partially damaged property was left without an attempt to cover up.

On Committee Stage we should have another look at preservation orders. It is my understanding that such orders apply to the person who owns the property and that in the event of a change of ownership it is necessary to have a new order made. In that regard I should like to know if the Office of Public Works liaise with the Land Registry Office in order to be kept informed of the change in ownership of historical property. I welcome the Bill and I hope that when we monitor its effects in two or three years' time we will be told that it has done the work intended.

I welcome the Bill for a number of reasons among which is my hope that it will educate our people about the need to preserve our heritage. I hope it will teach us about our background. When we contemplate these monuments and see them in their natural setting I hope we will think not just of the monuments but of the people who erected them. We should give thought to the work and intelligence of the people who built those monuments. I am thinking in particular of Grianan of Aileach in County Donegal and, nearer home, the Hill of Tara. The people who constructed such monuments and prepared such sites were, in the words of Yeats, no mean people. Obviously, they were skilled, highly intelligent and were in tune with their surroundings. When one sees the damage done to our monuments and places of historic interest one wonders whether this generation is in tune with our surroundings.

I realise the Bill is an interim measure and that our attitude towards monuments, our heritage and our surroundings is changing all the time as research helps us to understand our background. When one reads the Minister's statement one realises that we are not dealing with monuments but with buildings constructed by man, no matter how old or how recent. I should like to bring to the attention of the Minister objects I believe should be preserved. In my view we should preserve street furniture, items like lamp standards, horse troughs, street name places, statues, carvings on buildings and shop fronts. They are monuments to skilled artisans, tradesmen and artists who left their imprint on our capital city. We pass those objects daily and we do not notice them. For example, I travel to Dáil Éireann daily through a street called the Stoneybatter, Bóthar na gCloch, one of the five royal roads from Tara. Thousands of years after it was first used it is still trodden on by politicians and others travelling to the country's seat of power. It is interesting to contemplate that the centre of power has only moved 20 miles from Tara to Leinster House and that the road to Dublin remains.

There are many objects that should be preserved in Dublin city and I hope the Office of Public Works will place preservation orders on some of them. I am referring to bench marks along the two canals which were used by those engaged in ordnance survey work many years ago. Other items that should be preserved are letter boxes, pumps and bollards. In the haymarket area one can see that the entrances to yards are protected by granite or cast iron bollards to stop drays or lorries knocking the corners off the walls. It is important that we preserve such items many of which have a use today. What stopped the wheels of drays knocking corners off gates now stop the wheels of lorries.

Another weakness in our preservation of monuments in Dublin city is that many of the statues and artefacts erected over the years were commissioned by private bodies. I am thinking of such objects as the drinking fountains that are disappearing at a fast rate. There is one located outside the Gate Theatre which catered for animals on one side and humans on the other. Such troughs were erected by a group called the Free Fountain Drinking Water Association. However, they do not belong to anybody and can be removed without breaking any law. The statues in O'Connell Street come into the same category. It would be very difficult to prosecute a person for removing the statue of Jim Larkin, Lord Grey or Father Matthew. Those statues were erected by private individuals, groups or trustees who have since died.

Last year there was an attack on what was referred to as a moving statue in County Cork. The statue may not have been of any great artistic significance and it was very difficult to prosecute the person who damaged it. The same applies to other statues, whether they are religious or not. The Minister should look at this area, particularly as the Bill progresses through the House. Those statues, and the street furniture, are the products of bygone craftsmanship. We will not see the likes of this again. These are skills and trades that are going out of human reach. It would be a shame to allow all of them to go.

Another area that could be looked at by the Minister in conjunction with his colleague, the Minister for Education, relates to encouraging schools to study local history. Particularly in the west, in the last century when there was a high mortality rate for children, children's graveyards were developed. These are now being overgrown and they are in danger of being obliterated from the map. These graveyards are a sad monument to the poverty and hardship which people faced in the mid-19th century. There are also what could be called famine graveyards, where bodies were buried willy-nilly. As we have progressed in prosperity and the generations have died off, they have been forgotten. But, they are milestones on our march towards the present standard of relative economic prosperity. We should make a study of these areas. We should look at our most recent history before going back one or two thousand years.

Next year, Dublin is celebrating its millennium. Some years ago, the city of Sofia in Bulgaria celebrated its 7,000 birthday. We have a long way to go and on our way we should not lose many of our artefacts that have accrued in our society over the years.

In Dublin North Central, there are areas redolent of history. In the mid-19th century, Dublin, with a population one-third of what it is now, had five debtors' prisons and only one remains. It is either in the hands of the Board of Works or Dublin Corporation. It should be preserved and developed as a community centre or a heritage centre for the betterment of the local population and for the benefit of the people at large. The Oxmantown area was well known to Brian Boru prior to the battle of Clontarf. It is a corruption of the word "Ostmantown", the town of the men from the east, or the town of the Vikings. It was there they camped, prior to the battle of Clontarf.

Another matter to which I would refer is the preservation of original names. In Dublin, one finds, for instance, housing estates called Ailesbury. These names supersede Irish names that meant something and should still mean something to the Irish intellect. Most names whether in English or Irish in Ireland are corruptions of Irish names and they tell us something about the place. These names are being wiped off the map at a very fast rate. The Minister and the Board of Works should get together with Commisiún na Logainmneacha in the Ordnance Survey and try to make some sense of the naming of our newer estates in the urban areas.

I am glad to see that fines for vandalism or abuse of our national monuments are being increased to a point where it will be prohibitive for vandals to go to work on our ancient monuments. When this Bill is passed and the Minister and the Board of Works are looking forward to a future Bill, I would like them to think not just in terms of ancient monuments, but in terms of our whole heritage, because ancient monuments are just one part of our heritage. Streetscapes are also part of our heritage. One should study the streetscapes, standing in the great squares in Dublin, Fitzwilliam Square, Merrion Square and so on. If one stands at the bottom of Fitzwilliam Street, one can see how it frames a vista of the Dublin mountains. It can be argued that this vista was created by people trying to make a quick buck housing the rich prior to the closure of the Irish Houses of Parliament. Nonetheless, it is an important streetscape and it is a national monument. It is not just the stone or the doors, it is the vista it frames. We must look at this area more closely. This is where a heritage council working closely with local planning authorities could be an engine for good. They could ensure a planned tasteful development of our towns, villages and streets even in rural areas. How often does one come into a town in the country and see beautiful shop fronts desecrated with plastic and neon. Nearer to home, Grafton Street and O'Connell Street have been desecrated due to piecemeal planning, without an overview of our heritage.

When the Minister is introducing a new Bill I would like him to consider drawing up a register of licensed dealers in artefacts, curios and antiquities. These licensed dealers should be asked to keep inventories which can be inspected so that more control can be exercised over auctioneers and dealers in ancient artefacts. It is too easy for people with an eye to the fast buck to move antiquities from the country or to desecrate national monuments. The definition should include the words "movable and immovable objects". Collections that form a hoard should not be broken up or if they are to be broken up responsible people from the Office of Public Works and the National Museum, should be allowed to vet them prior to a licence being given.

If we are to have a Monuments Council, all searches and research should be monitored by the council. Research can be damaging as well as enlightening. It is only right that members of this council and people from the Board of Works should have an input before excavations or researches get underway. Many of these monuments have been here for thousands of years. Time is on our side. We have time to make sure that we do not do damage.

In winding up, I congratulate the Minister on his appointment. I also congratulate him on introducing this Bill, which is one of many that will be required as our knowledge about our background grows. The only constraint on the Minister is a shortage of money to do all that he and his officials would wish. The Office of Public Works have an excellent history in the safeguarding of our heritage, but in future we will have to take a broader overview to include not just ancient historic monuments but those of more recent date.

I am pleased this Bill has been welcomed by the House. It is clearly of more importance than it might appear at first sight. A commitment on the part of both Houses of the Oireachtas to preserve our heritage of monuments and sites is an indication that we are all aware of the deeper significance of this heritage. For heritage has much to do with what we are. It has to do with our identity as a people and with our pride and prejudice. The tangible remains of past events are constant reminders to us. Even battle fields have lessons for us. Some people would, of course, say that the past is best forgotten and this is a sad situation but the trouble is we cannot properly understand the present without a knowledge of the past. Our monuments help to crystallise in our minds the events and personalities of the past. They tell where and how the people lived. They provide teachers with important points of reference around which they can recreate in the minds of young people the historic developments which shaped our country.

Our monuments also have a larger dimension because they help to identify the Irish ethos in today's world. Statistics have been quoted which show that a high proportion of visitors to our shores come in search of a cultural experience. Many are sons and daughters of emigrants from Ireland coming to touch the roots, so to speak. Others would have no such hereditary connection but wish to understand and savour what makes this country and its people what they are. And it is to our monuments and famous sites they go in ever-increasing numbers to satisfy their desire to know and understand our cultural background.

This has had the useful by-product of providing regular summer work for guides at these monuments. These guides achieve a high standard of communication with their visitors and succeed in awakening an appreciation of our great historical heritage.

If we are to develop tourism to its full potential, a proper attention to the presentation of our monuments is necessary. I am happy to note that in my own county of Galway excellent work has been done to Portumna Castle and its formal garden. Lintels were replaced in all the chimneys. Large oak beams have been placed in the south tower at first, second and third floor levels in conformity with the original design. Rose beds and shrubs have been provided in the gardens and an altogether pleasing and attractive prospect is being provided for our visitors. I could also say much the same in regard to the work done at Knockmoy Abbey where archaeological excavation was carried out to recover all available information before conservation was begun. Work included the restoration of a cloister wall to arcade level. Part of the chancel area was reroofed and mediaeval grave slabs and a high cross were moved into a suitable display area.

Such works are not confined to County Galway but are carried out by the national monuments service in every county and are an invaluable part of tourism development. At a time of financial retrenchment, it behoves us to count our assets and to maximise their impact and utility and, of course, increase our commitment to their protection.

I would like to deal with the comments and questions raised by the various Members. My predecessor in this office, Deputy Avril Doyle, came up with an interesting proposal for involving the Office of Public Works in the classification of buildings. I am aware of the wide range of architectural expertise in the Office of Public Works and I would be happy to see my office assisting in any way they can in devising a better classification system. This is not something we can provide for under this Bill. It is primarily a matter for the Minister for the Environment, but I am sure that he will be very interested in Deputy Doyle's proposal and I will refer it to him.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn raised the problem of getting the balance right between the rights of private property and the public good and also questioned whether the designation of a group of buildings as a national monument is not fraught with difficulties in regard to compensation. The Supreme Court in the O'Callaghan case upheld the constitutionality of preservation orders made under the National Monuments Acts. These orders do place certain limitations on the use of land affected and no compensation is payable. Indeed if it were payable, our powers of action would be very curtailed, but why should compensation be payable when all that is required of a landowner is to leave intact something which has been there for countless generations? The accelerating progress with the archaeological survey and the entry of identified monuments in the new register and on title to lands will tend to reduce the number of cases of persons buying lands for development and subsequently finding that a monument on the lands upsets their plans.

I am glad that Deputy Quill is happy with the work done in County Cork by the staff of UCC. The archaeological survey of County Cork is being done by a team from UCC who have been commissioned by the Office of Public Works and it is part of the national survey being carried out by my office.

The Deputy feels there is nothing in the Bill to stop the despoliation of monuments, including the theft and export of grave slabs. I would suggest that the threat of a fine of up to £50,000 is a fairly effective deterrent. Deputy Ruairí Quinn accepted this. He acknowledged the provisions are as serious and draconian as could be made and he supports them. Deputy Quill stressed the need for education in order to ensure that the public at large have an appreciation of, and a desire to protect, this important part of our heritage. This, again, is a major part of the OPW's programme. We may not realise when admiring posters and calendars which depict our finest monuments that the original photographs of them may have come from the OPW's photographic department. Guidebooks, postcards and slide-shows are constantly being made available. The guide service at our major national monuments is second to none. Sections 6 and 12 of the Bill are in fact intended, inter alia, to allow more to be done in the way of providing interpretative facilities at the more important sites.

Deputy Quill is mistaken in thinking that the maximum fine for which a person found in possession of a metal detector at an historic site is only £1,000. In fact the maximum fine is £50,000. I hope that this will allay her fears about the adequacy of section 2 of the Bill.

Deputy Quill thought that it was not right to limit protection to wrecks of more than 100 years old. In adopting the 100-year criterion for historic wrecks we have followed the line adopted by the committee of experts appointed by the Council of Europe. The onus of verifying the age of a wreck will be on the discoverers and, given the level of interest and enthusiasm that wreck finds generate, I am certain that divers will take the trouble required to research and verify the dating evidence in each case. The Maritime Institute of Ireland has been lending its valuable expertise and assistance in this regard, for which we are very grateful.

The adoption of the 100-year criterion, which is already enshrined in the draft European Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, has the benefit of affording blanket protection to all wrecks more than 100 years old. The 100-year criterion does not, however, prevent the Commissioners from protecting any wreck of historical interest which is less than 100 years old. To echo what I said in my opening speech in regard to monuments; a historic wreck can be as old as yesterday. The only difference is that wrecks less than 100 years old have to be dealt with on an individual basis and are not protected until an order is made. Wrecks over 100 years old are automatically protected, even in advance of the making of an order.

I agree with Deputy Ruairí Quinn's suggestion that the Minister for Finance, when appointing the five persons provided for under section 4(3)(f) to the Historic Monuments Council, should look at the range of expertise provided by the representatives of the nominated bodies and then select five persons who would fill any gaps that were apparent and correct any lack of balance that he might see. I would think that this would be normal procedure.

With regard to Deputy Quill's question on the appropriateness of the appointment of the chairman of the Historic Monuments Council by the Minister for Finance, this is the normal arrangement in such cases and, again, the Minister would, in choosing a chairman, have regard to the diverse interests represented and try to select a person capable of reconciling these elements and producing a good working relationship.

Deputy Quill questioned why the Minister for Communications should be represented on the Historic Monuments Council. The Minister for Communications' representative was included in the Historic Monuments Council to take account of underwater archaelogy. In view of the shift of responsibility for marine affairs to the new Department of the Marine, I will be introducing an amendment on Committee Stage to alter paragraph 3 (c) of section 4 to read "a representative of the Minister for the Marine nominated by the Minister for the Marine".

Deputy Quill further suggested that there should be a representative of the National Museum. The National Museum comes under the Department of the Taoiseach and there is provision in the Bill for "a representative of the Taoiseach nominated by the Taoiseach". In fact, the present representative of the Department is an official of the National Museum.

Deputy Gerard Brady decried the absence of a city archaeologist in Dublin. I agree with him completely. I, too, am sorry to see that neither Dublin nor Cork Corporations have yet created such a post either in a temporary capacity or in an advisory capacity. At the same time, I should pay tribute to the corporations of Waterford, Limerick and Galway who have recently decided to appoint archaeologists to assist them in their preservation or both their and our heritage. I hope that both Dublin and Cork will follow quickly the lead of the smaller corporations as there are many excellent people in different vocations, but involved professionally and otherwise with archaeology who I believe would make a major contribution in this area, if given the opportunity.

Deputies Brady and Enright suggested bringing archaeology into the schools. The OPW took a step in this direction in the past two years when they printed 50,000 copies of an illustrated booklet called Irish Field Monuments and distributed copies to every school in the country. I understand that this booklet fitted well into the curriculum of fifth and sixth classes in the national schools and many schools have ordered additional copies. Any school children fortunate enough to have teachers with an interest in archaeology will benefit greatly from instruction with the aid of this booklet which has been widely praised. It is simple enough to be understood by primary school children while at the same time being of such academic standard as to make it useful to students of archaeology at university. I would like to see the OPW archaeologists following up this initiative by visiting schools and giving talks to school children on the need to preserve our archaeological heritage, but it would be unrealistic to expect that we will have the resources to do this in the years immediately ahead. The most we can hope to do at this stage is to give teachers whatever assistance we can so that they will be capable of imparting knowledge and appreciation of this heritage to their students. I propose to suggest to the Minister for Education that provision be made in the teacher training programme for a short session on archaeology and, in this way, we will at least be reaching the new teachers coming out of our colleges. Later on, it may be possible to meet present teachers at refresher courses.

The Office of Public Works provide a valuable aid to education also by their encouragement to school groups to visit our major monuments where an excellent interpretive service is provided. There must be few children now leaving our school system who have not visited some of these monuments such as Newgrange and Clonmacnoise and learnt something of our history from this contact with the places where our ancestors lived and produced great works of art and learning, and other places like Kilmainham Jail, which are so synonymous with our modern history of this century. I hope that in the years ahead there will be a renewed interest in all aspects of our heritage and culture, especially our vast number of national monuments

Deputy Gerard Brady further suggested that a system of watching monuments similar to the community neighbourhood watch scheme, which has been successful in reducing crime levels in certain areas, should be considered. This Bill, in fact, caters for such an idea. Section 8 allows the commissioners to authorise persons other than their own employees to inspect monuments. This would mean that members of local historic monuments committees or of local archaeological or historical societies who were willing to volunteer their services could be appointed to inspect monuments within designated areas. This could be especially useful in regard to the isolated sites referred to by the Deputy. I might add that members of the local societies to whom I have referred act as watchdogs, and intervention by the commissioners frequently arises as a result of reports received from interested persons who notice something amiss. There is scope, of course, for extending this approach and efforts are all the time being made to bring the message to a wider public. The commissioners, for instance, had a national parks and monuments stand at the Spring Show this year which brought our heritage before members of both the farming and the wider community attending the show. Deputy Brady made interesting suggestions in regard to the help which boy scouts and girl guides could give in protecting the heritage. He mentioned other bodies such as the GAA who have set a fine example in taking steps to preserve the home of the late Michael Cusack one of their founding members in Carron, County Clare. These suggestions are valuable and can be explored. It is possible that periodicals and magazines circulating among such groups and clubs could carry articles of local heritage interest. I am glad that this question of local community involvement has been raised as it is clearly desirable to have the tightening up of our laws accompanied by a fostering of community interest and support.

Deputy Brady further referred to the damage done to many monuments such as Clonmacnoise and Iniscealtra. The great problem at present is the level of fines. The present maximum fine is £50. It is proposed to raise this to £50,000. This is a very heavy fine and anyone preparing to do damage to a monument should think twice before doing so when this Bill is enacted. As well as the fine of £50,000 the courts may also impose a six months' prison sentence. This is a very effective deterrent.

The Derrynaflan decision does not mean that one can go into another's property and take teasures from it. What the High Court decided was that the law of treasure trove does not apply in this country and that, therefore, the State cannot claim ownership. The court, therefore, decided that the National Museum should return the treasures to the person who had handed them in to the museum. The court did not decide on who owns the treasures, that is whether it is the landowner, the finders or whoever.

Deputy Gerard Brady further referred to treasures in the care of the National Museum, and as these treasures are not my responsibility I cannot say whether any facsimiles of the Ardagh Chalice or of any other treasures have been made. We always run the risk that copies in the style of these treasures may be reconstructed from photographs. The Office of Public Works make copies of some grave slabs and other stone artefacts so that the originals can be moved to greater safety from the elements and from vandals. Copies of relevant items in the National Museum are also made for display at places like the Rock of Cashel and Clonmacnoise.

Deputy Enright supports the controls being introduced in regard to the use of metal detectors and the severe penalties introduced for illegal use of metal detectors. He went on to suggest that the archaeologists might themselves use metal detectors in certain circumstances such as road widening. It is, however, difficult to imagine that any archaeologist would stoop to using a metal detector in any circumstances. The homing in on single objects of metal and their extraction is so contrary to the rules of archaeology that it is hard to see any circumstances in which one would be used. What is required is that the route of the proposed roadway should be surveyed by an archaeologist in order to ensure that archaeological sites are avoided. An archaeologist should then be employed to watch the work as it proceeds so that any structures or artefacts that are uncovered are properly excavated.

The Deputy also referred to Redwood Castle on the slopes of Lough Derg, Lorrha, in County Tipperary, formerly occupied by the notorious MacEgan family, which has been restored by a Galway solicitor of that name. It is an example of what private initiative can do. I am happy to say that the Commissioners of Public Works are in a position in such cases to make a "determination" under section 19 of the Finance Act, 1982, which entitles the owner to substantial tax reliefs because of the intrinsic scientific, aesthetic, architectural or historic interest of the building.

Deputy Enright referred to the archaeological survey of County Laois and said that lists were so expensive that only a very few copies were made.

I should explain that the first stage of an archaeological survey is the compilation of sites and monuments records. These consist of lists of monuments and copies of the six inch Ordnance Survey maps for the counties on which the monuments are marked. These are produced mainly for planning authorities, the farm development service and the forestry Branch so that these bodies may know of the presence of monuments and make sure that when any planning applications, or applications for farm improvement schemes are made, they will take the monuments into account. The cost of reproducing these sites and monuments records is very high. In any event, they are very bulky and unwieldy and not really suitable for circulation to schools.

The next stage is the preparation of the inventory. Inventories for two counties have already been issued and a further one is with the printers. They sell for about £20 each and are more relevant to the layman. I would hope that an inventory for Deputy Enright's county of Offaly will be issued in the not too distant future.

Deputy Enright referred specifically to the farm improvement schemes, and I am glad to tell the Deputy that the Office of Public Works have a very good working relationship with the farm development service. Whenever the farm development service are aware that there may be a monument on land proposed for reclamation they consult with the Office of Public Works. If the Office of Public Works advise that an area should be excluded from the improvement scheme the farm development service accept that advice.

Both Deputies Brady and Enright referred to the theft of grave slabs from Clonmacnoise. I am glad to acknowledge Deputy Enright's tribute to the staff of the Office of Public Works at Clonmacnoise. I would like to tell him that it was not by luck that a foreigner was caught in the act of stealing grave slabs two years ago. After the initial theft the Office of Public Works organised a 24-hour watch on the site. It was as a result of this vigilance that an arrest and a successful prosecution was made.

I am sorry to interrupt the Minister but he will appreciate that I am obliged to proceed to other business about now. Would the Minister like to move the Adjournment of the debate?

I sincerely regret that I have not sufficient time to make an observation on all the contributions made by the 14 speakers. I would hope, in replying to the Committee and Final Stages, to refer to all of the points raised.

I take it the Minister has now concluded his reply to the Second Reading of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it intended to have Committee Stage?

The taking of Committee Stage will be arranged between the Whips.

Perhaps we could say Wednesday week.

Yes, subject to agreement between the Whips.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 3 June 1987.