European Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage: Motion.

I move:

That Dáil Éireann approves the terms of the European Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage revised at Valletta on 16th January, 1992, a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on the 9th day of January, 1997.

Tá áthas orm an deis seo a bheith agam an Coinbhinsiún seo a thabhairt faoi bhráid na Dála. Tá údarás an Rialtais fáighte agam chun rún a chur os comhair na Dála ag glacadh le téarmaí an Choinbhinsiúin. Beidh an tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha ag déanamh ullmhúcháin chun an Coinbhinsiún a cheangail, faoi réir aontú na Dála don rún atá á mholadh agamsa anois. Táim ag tnúth le tacaíocht a fháil ó Chomhaltaí an Tí seo don rún.

The convention, known as the Valletta Convention, is one of the results of work by the Council of Europe on the co-ordination of policies on the protection of the archaeological heritage. It is a revised and updated version of the original convention signed in London in 1969, to which Ireland was not a party. Details of its signature and ratification are as follows: it was open for signature in Valletta, Malta, on 16 January 1992; it was signed by Ireland on that date; as of 7 January 1997, 27 out of 40 member states of the Council of Europe had signed the convention; of the member states which have signed, 11 have ratified; one non member state, the Holy See, has signed; and the convention entered into force on 25 May 1995.

Archaeology is concerned with the study of past societies through the material remains left by those societies and the evidence of their environment. The archaeological heritage consists of such material remains and environmental evidence and forms a resource which allows us to investigate and attempt to understand the past. The material remains of past societies in Ireland, dating from the earliest human occupation of Ireland at the end of 8th millennium BC right through to relatively recent times, take a wide variety of forms, including settlement and industrial sites and structures, field systems, ritual and funerary monuments and also artefacts, but collectively this archaeological resource should be seen as an archive which allows many fundamental aspects of the story of the people who have lived in Ireland over the past 9,000 years to be investigated and better understood in a way and to a degree which would not otherwise be possible.

As a resource, the archaeological heritage is a finite and non-renewable one. Given its importance and non-renewable nature it is essential to secure its protection and proper management. This does not mean preservingin situ all the material remains of the past, but it means we should try to ensure that, as a minimum, material remains of past societies which can contribute to our understanding of the past are not destroyed without appropriate archaeological investigation and recording, and that such destruction should not take place without good reasons, be they for the sake of archaeological research or to allow development necessary in the public interest.

The ratification of the Valletta Convention at this time is an important statement of our continuing commitment to the protection of the archaeological heritage. The convention provides member states with a means of proclaiming common principles for the protection of the archaeological heritage of Europe. It lays down European standards for the protection of this heritage and sets out a range of obligations which signatories undertake to implement. These obligations relate to the identification of the archaeological heritage to be protected, the implementation of statutory protection procedures and technical co-operation in matters relating to the archaeological heritage between parties to the convention.

The formal purpose of today's debate is to comply with Article 29 of the Constitution, which requires Dáil approval to international conventions which involve a charge on public funds.

The main undertakings to be given by states ratifying or acceding to the convention are: (1) to institute a legal system for the protection of the archaeological heritage — which is defined as all remains and objects and any other traces of mankind from past epochs, the preservation and study of which help to retrace the history of mankind and its relation with the natural environment and for which excavations or discoveries and other methods of research into mankind and the related environment are the main sources of information, and includes structures, constructions, groups of buildings, developed sites, movable objects, monuments of other kinds, as well as their context, whether they are situated on land or under water — and to make provision in that protective legal system for: the maintenance of an inventory of the archaeological heritage and the designation of protected monuments and areas; the creation of archaeological reserves for preservation and future study; and the mandatory reporting to the authorities by finders of the chance discovery of elements of the archaeological heritage and making them available for examination; (2) to apply procedures for the authorisation and supervision of excavations and other archaeological activities in order to: prevent any illicit excavation or removal of elements of the archaeological heritage; ensure that non-destructive methods of investigation are used where possible, that elements of the archaeological heritage are not left uncovered or exposed during or after excavations without provisions being made for their proper preservation, conservation and management and that excavations are carried out by qualified, authorised persons; ensure that the use of metal detectors and other detection equipment for archaeological investigation is subject to prior authorisation; (3) to make provision for: the acquisition or protection by other appropriate means by public authorities of proposed archaeological reserves; the conservation and maintenance of the archaeological heritage, preferablyin situ; and for appropriate storage places for archaeological remains which have been removed from their original location; (4) to ensure that: archaeologists participate in planning policies designed to protect and conserve sites of archaeological interest, and in the various stages of development schemes; that archaeologists and planners consult one another to permit the modification of development plans likely to have adverse effects on the archaeological heritage and to allocate time and resources for appropriate scientific studies of sites and publication of findings; environmental impact assessments and resulting decisions take full account of archaeological sites and their settings; elements of the archaeological heritage found during development work are conserved in situ when feasible; and the opening of archaeological sites to the public, especially any structural works necessary for the reception of large numbers, does not adversely affect the archaeological character of such sites and their surroundings; (5) to provide public financial support for archaeological research, increase the resources for rescue archaeology, ensure that provision is made in development schemes for covering, from public or private resources, the total costs of related archaeological operations, and provide in the budgets for development schemes for preliminary archaeological study and prospection, for a scientific summary record and for full publication and recording of the findings; (6) to facilitate the study of, and dissemination of knowledge about, archaeological discoveries, make or bring up to date surveys, inventories and maps of archaeological sites and take all practical measures to ensure the drafting, following archaeological operations, of a publishable scientific record before the publication of comprehensive studies; (7) to facilitate national and international exchange of elements of the archaeological heritage for scientific purposes, promote the pooling of information on archaeological research and excavations and contribute to international research programmes; (8) to educate the public in the value of archaeological heritage and the threats to it, promote public access to important elements of this heritage, and encourage public display of selected archaeological objects; (9) in the prevention of the illicit circulation of elements of the archaeological heritage to: arrange for the relevant public authorities and for scientific institutions to pool information on any illicit excavations; inform competent authorities in the states of origin of any offers suspected of coming from illicit excavations or unlawfully from official excavations; ensure that museums and similar institutions whose acquisition policies are under State control do not acquire elements of the archaeological heritage suspected of coming from uncontrolled finds or illicit excavations or unlawfully from official excavations; convey the text of the convention to museums and similar institutions whose acquisition policies are not under State control, and make every effort to ensure that such bodies respect the same principles in acquisition of elements of the archaeological heritage suspected of coming from uncontrolled finds, etc. as apply to museums and similar bodies whose acquisition policies are under State control; restrict by education, vigilance and co-operation the illicit circulation of elements of the archaeological heritage; and (10) provide mutual technical assistance through the exchange of information and experts in matters concerning the archaeological heritage, and encourage, under relevant legislation or agreements, exchanges of specialists in the preservation of the archaeological heritage, including those responsible for further training.

The convention also provides that a committee of experts will monitor the application of the convention and report periodically to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and that the European Union or any state not a member of the Council of Europe may be invited to accede to the convention. I am satisfied existing legislation and practice are adequate to give full effect to all of the obligations the convention will impose on the State on ratification.

The programme, A Government of Renewal, contains a number of commitments in the heritage area, many of which have been implemented during the past year and a half. The most notable of these are the establishment of the Heritage Council on a statutory basis in 1995 and the completion of the transfer of responsibility for heritage services to my Department last year. The Heritage Act, 1995, under which the Heritage Council was set up, provides for the establishment of a standing committee on archaeology, which effectively replaces the National Monuments Advisory Council in so far as the archaeological side of that body's responsibilities are concerned.

The programme also contains a commitment to continue work on a full national audit of archaeological sites. This work is being carried out by the national monuments and historic properties service of my Department under the Archaeological Survey of Ireland programme. This work commenced in the 1960s. In 1992, there was a programme of compilation of known archaeological monuments and sites was completed with the publication of the sites and monuments records, SMRs, on a county basis. The SMRs identify archaeological sites and monuments by reference to maps and townlands of location. A complementary urban archaeological survey of medieval and plantation towns, which has been incorporated in the SMRs, was completed in 1995. The SMRs are distributed to planning authorities and to various other agencies concerned with local and national development issues to ensure that those involved in large scale land use are aware of the existence of archaeological sites and so avoid damaging them.

The next stage of the survey, the compilation and publication of an archaeological inventory for each county based on extensive field work, is in progress. To date, inventories have been published for nine counties, while inventories for seven counties will be published this year or early next year. Work is well advanced on the remaining counties.

Article 7 of the convention obliges parties to it to promote archaeological research. Discovery Programme Limited is carrying out very valuable work in the archaeological research field. The Discovery Programme was established in 1991 with the twin objectives of carrying out focused archaeological research on Ireland's past and making this available to the academic community and the public at large. In January 1996 it was established formally as a non-profit making company, funded by way of an annual grant from the Heritage Council. At present it has four major projects under way, each looking at different aspects of the late prehistoric period. These are Tara, North Munster, the Western Stone Forts and Ballyhoura Hills. An additional £80,000 was made available to the Heritage Council in the budget to enable Discovery Programme Limited to continue its work on the Tara project. This additional allocation to Discovery Programme Limited increases its 1997 funding to £0.63 million.

Mar fhocal scoir, agus ag tagairt arís don rún atá á phlé anois, ba mhaith liom a dhearbhú arís go bhfuil an rún ag teacht os comhair an Tí seo de bharr riachtanais Airteagal 29, fo-Airteagal 5.2, den Bhunreacht, a deireann nach mbeidh chonradh idirnáisiúnta a chuirfeadh costas ar an gciste poiblí ina cheangal ar an Stát mura dtoileoidh Dáil Éireann le téarmaí an chonartha sin.

Molaim an rún don Teach.

I am pleased to welcome this motion. The convention was signed in Malta in January 1992 by my colleague, the then Minister of State with responsibility for cultural heritage, Deputy O'Donoghue. As our recent document on heritage shows, Fianna Fáil has a very strong commitment to the development of the archaeological heritage. The Discovery Programme in Archaeology was established by a Fianna Fáil Government. In its heritage document "Caring for our Heritage", Fianna Fáil renews its commitment to funding the Discovery Programme in Archaeology. This programme, first inaugurated by a Fianna Fáil Government and Taoiseach, has generated great excitement at international level and is the envy of many countries. According to reports, the projects are showing tremendous results and are contributing in major ways to our understanding of the past and the archaeological landscape.

The Discovery Programme is in many ways the jewel in our archaeological crown. It has received praise from many international sources and is the envy of many archaeologists and international programmes. As a result of major capital investment, it has enabled Irish archaeology to acquire the best of equipment and to develop its expertise in ways which were impossible previously. It has also enabled major research projects to be undertaken, something which could not be attempted previously because of the scale of the work involved. It has advanced our understanding of humankind's interaction with the landscape from the earliest times and has allowed important surveying and research to be carried out on sites of major social and cultural importance.

Fianna Fáil has supported the Discovery Programme from the beginning. It was due to the vision of the then leader of the party that the programme was first initiated. The continuance of the programme is vital in piecing together our cultural and heritage jigsaw. The programme will give us much cause for pride and excitement in the years ahead as it continues to develop our understanding of our early identity. We must not underestimate the benefits of such a programme in terms of the well-being and sense of identity of the nation. It adds greatly to our sense of pride in who we are and in our roots.

Irish archaeology has made great strides in recent times but it has had to cope with major areas of concern. The continued rapid rate of destruction of archaeological sites is a cause of major concern. Greater economic development and expansion, urban renewal, land reclamation, forestry programmes, road development and the jettisoning by the rural population of many old superstitions and beliefs have all had a sorry effect on the archaeological heritage.

Thanks to the sites and monuments records, the county inventories and other archaeological surveys we now have a much better picture of the archaeological landscape. Planners, local authority officials, farm advisers and development agencies now have much better resources available to them than in the past. Fianna Fáil believes people have a much greater sense of the importance of their archaeological heritage and the challenge is to ensure the systems of government and development provide greater protection for this heritage. We need to ensure that local authority development plans take full account of the archaeological heritage and that all important sites receive as much protection as possible. We also need to introduce a process of education and training for public service officials.

Fianna Fáil in Government will commit itself to the development of an increased sense of the importance of the archaeological heritage and of its increasing fragility. We propose the Department should adopt an increasing watching brief in terms of development plans and plans for economic and transport infrastructure and seek, through the local authority liaison unit in particular, to increase the awareness of the archaeological heritage and of the need for archaeology friendly development. This can be achieved in a number of ways, for example, by ensuring at the planning and development stage archaeologically friendly development of the roads network in terms of the stripping processes, on-site monitoring etc., by providing specialised training for public service engineers and planners, by general education and by the promotion of knowledge of the archaeological heritage.

The staggering results and success of the gas pipeline archaeological project show how archaeology and development work can proceed happily hand in hand. In this case the development of the pipeline and the need for archaeological monitoring and surveying unveiled rich archaeological treasures previously undetected. In the future, early consideration of the archaeological implications of major developments and the inclusion of measures to deal with these will ensure that archaeology and development can happily coexist.

It is also clear that we need to look very closely at the effects of urban renewal on urban archaeology. The resolution of archaeological difficulties has posed major problems for archaeological services, local authorities and developers. It has become clear there can be archaeological implications for a development project that should have been carefully considered at the start. In many cases developers have been more than willing to pay for archaeological investigation and excavation but time constraints and unforeseen problems have led to complications. All urban renewal programmes and developments in historic urban areas need to have their archaeological implications carefully assessed at an early stage. Developers should not be under any illusions as to the State's commitment and that of local authorities to protect the archaeological heritage. Goodwill, imagination and careful planning will advance archaeology and prevent any brake being put on development.

When one takes the longer view, the proposed development in an urban area of archaeological importance is just the latest in a series of developments. Our understanding of what went before needs to be enhanced and the site's archaeological story deserves to be explored and mapped as far as possible.

A Fianna Fáil Government will commit itself to a major review of the effects of recent development policy on urban archaeology. It will also seek to expedite the production of the remaining county inventories so that we will have as full a picture as possible of the archaeological heritage in our temporary care. Fianna Fáil has already stated that local authorities must have access to trained professionals, and the availability of archaeologists in the Planning and Local Development Plan system must be a priority.

Future generations will judge us harshly if we do not protect what was always revered and often given sacred standing and cultural protection. Our pride as a nation demands that we protect and celebrate our astonishing archaeological history which provides us with vital pieces in the jigsaw of the long and extraordinary story of this land since the first Mesolithic hunter-gatherers came here, or even some visitors from times further back.

Fianna Fáil also recognises the difficulties that apply to access to a significant number of monument sites and the complicated issues involved in that. It is hoped that as structures are put in place, and as a greater degree of information and consultation applies, many of these difficulties will be sorted out before a stand-off occurs. It should be the task of local authorities and heritage service professionals to ensure this kind of contact.

Where particular difficulties persist, Fianna Fáil will examine the access issue in the context of constitutional reform and changes to the sections which apply to private property rights. A balance must be achieved between the individual rights of property owners and the rights of citizens where access to the nation's archaeological heritage is concerned.

With regard to industrial archaeology, many communities and local groups have become conscious of the presence of neglected mill complexes, warehouses, small industrial complexes, dockyards, labourers' accommodation, smaller mills and associated works in their localities. These features of the architectural and archaeological landscape have featured prominently in the plans of local communities to preserve and develop their heritage, to provide tourist and craft facilities and to reuse these complexes for general community purposes.

These buildings and sites have been neglected in the past but local communities have given a lead to Government and to regional and local authorities. We need to develop a classification system and an inventory for these buildings and sites. This should take place in the context of the wider and better resourced brief being given to the National Inventory of Architecture.

It is important that good representative samples of different examples of the industrial archaeology be preserved and restored. County development plans offer a good vehicle for ensuring there is a planned approach on a local basis to preservation and development. The heritage services can offer valuable advice to local authorities and to local communities in developing their plans. Fianna Fáil wants to see these often neglected buildings and complexes brought back into the centre of community life. We want the twin aims of conservation and finding new uses for old buildings to work hand in hand to guarantee the protection of our industrial archaeology and to breathe new life into these buildings which were not designed to sit idle.

I agree with the statement in the convention that archaeological heritage is essential to the knowledge of the history of mankind. Our heritage is seriously threatened with deterioration because of an increasing number of major planning schemes, natural risks, clandestine or unscientific excavations and insufficient public awareness.

The convention also aims to protect archaeological heritage as a source of the European collective memory and as an instrument for historical and scientific study. The heritage is to include structures, constructions, groups of buildings, developed sites, moveable objects, monuments of other kinds as well as their contents, whether situated on land or under water.

Each party to the convention undertakes to institute a legal system for the protection of the archaeological heritage to preserve it, implement measures for its physical protection, ensure archaeologists participate in planning policies, arrange public financial support, disseminate knowledge and pool information and experience on illicit excavations.

The Minister has been quick to blow his own trumpet about what he has done in this area. He has often engaged in that despicable political act of saying he has done more than those in Government before him, but self praise is no praise. Why has nothing been done about this convention? The Minister was appointed at the end of 1992. The convention must have been one of the first matters to greet him, yet it has not been dealt with until now. At least this convention is from this decade; the last one to be ratified was a 1985 convention on the protection of Europe's architectural heritage.

According to the latter part of this convention it was agreed at the Third European Conference of Ministers to adapt a European plan for archaeology. This was to raise public awareness of the roots of European civilisation and values through a campaign focusing on the Bronze Age; establish thematic networks, particularly of ancient theatres, amphitheatres and arenas, using a multi-disciplinary approach; set up a working party to carry out a comparative study of the urban archaeology of the country's of greater Europe, with a view to publication; and institute an international study of documentation and inventory techniques aimed at defining common standards for an inventory of the archaeological heritage. The working party on archaeological documentation decided in 1992 to focus on sites and monuments of the Bronze Age and, as a pilot programme, to produce a multilingual glossary of the Bronze Age in Europe to be issued by the middle of 1994.

Has there been any action on the proposals in the convention? If so, it has not impinged on members of the public who should be aware of these matters. Conventions are no substitute for real action. In its comment at the time of the signing of the convention, the magazineArchaeology Ireland noted a gap between theory and practice — we have the laws but not the resources to enforce them.

I ask the Minister of State, as the Minister is not with us, to ensure the staff and funding needed to implement the terms of the convention will be forthcoming immediately.

My party approves the ratification of the terms of the convention. The Minister of State's contribution included a list of worthy objectives with which no right minded person would seek to be at odds; the objective of the convention must be supported.

We are nearing the end of another century, a time when people take stock of what is worth protecting and preserving for the next generation. We have three and a half years to examine our consciences in respect of our archaeology and to look back on our track record since this country attained independence in the early part of this century. Our track record in that regard has been patchy. At official level it has improved significantly in recent times. The legislation introduced following the discovery of the Derrynaflan Chalice was a watershed in our history in terms of our approach to ownership of archaeological matters. While significant strides have been made in a number of areas since then, we are not particularly good at recognising the importance of our archaeological history. Were it not for the great voluntary work done by local historical and archaeological groups since the beginning of this century, many priceless items would have been lost through official neglect or downright plunder. Items that should be the birthright of this and future generations were plundered and traded for monetary value and nobody shouted "stop". There is an obligation on all of us to ensure that appropriate laws and resources are put in place to prevent this happening in future. In areas where there is a strong sense of archaeological and historical value important items are preserved and are a source of local pride. That type of attitude should be fostered in all areas.

I will not forget the sense of excitement I felt when I visited the Céide Fields while attending a summer school in Ballina a few years ago. Even though I had heard the Minister, Deputy Kenny, talk about them, I did not have any idea what was involved. There is a great story behind their discovery. They were discovered by a national school teacher whose son is now the head of the Department of Archaeology in UCD. That school teacher had a conviction that there was something of great importance in the area, but his views were ignored by official Ireland. His son, obviously inflamed by the enthusiasm and conviction of his father, undertook to explore the area and the great story about the discovery of fields and their preservation is explained in a lovely interpretative centre. It is one of the great gems of our country of which we can be justly proud. It is regrettable that some of the other interpretative centres which are based on flimsy pretences did not follow the classic example of the Céide Fields.

My party believes there should be a properly resourced structured and scientific approach to the preservation of our archaeological remains. We are a small nation with only a few key items worth preserving. Our clean and green environment — although it is not as clean and green as it should be — is worth fighting for and the same applies to our archaeology.

The shortfall in our cultural thinking should be addressed by way of education. While we are passionate about our songs, slogans, banners and flags and have a civil war about the meaning of a word, we are not so passionate about our tangible archaeological remains. This stems, to some extent, from a shortfall in the way in which we teach history, particularly local history. I taught history before being to this House. I can, still quote the various battles of the Thirty Years' War and the terms of the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, but I do not know the history of many parts of this country. We fail to pass on to our young people a body of knowledge about the importance of the physical fabric of their localities and the archaeological remains that are found in every parish. If the worthwhile aspirations of which we speak this morning are to become a reality, our young people must be taught how to appreciate archaeological items and how to play their part in protecting and preserving them. As they get older they must appreciate that it is worth paying taxes to put in place resources to protect our archaeological heritage. Every local authority should have a permanent archaeologist and conservation officer and if I have a say in the next Government, I will make that a priority. It will form part of my party's election manifesto.

Under the guise of urban renewal a great deal of destruction has taken place in recent times.

Will the Deputy abolish urban renewal if she gets into Government?

It is possible to operate an urban renewal scheme in conjunction with the protection of archaeological items and the conservation of important buildings. I know the Minister believes that philosophy because, as a Clare man, it is bred in his bones. It is possible to do both, but it is unacceptable that hard earned taxpayers' money should be lashed out to developers who are not required to preserve matters of archaeological importance. That is unacceptable to me as a taxpayer and a citizen. It is not beyond my wit and wisdom to know that both can be done. I hope that answers the question of the Minister of State.

There has been much talk about the need to preserve special areas of conservation and to compensate farmers to enable us to sign the relevant EU Directive. The matter was discussed in great detail on the last occasion the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht took questions and he appeared to accept the Opposition's viewpoint. Consequently, I expected him to allocate a sum of money in the budget to pay compensation to farmers to enable him to sign the directive, but expectation was in vain. I despair when I hear members of the Government speak fine words but this does not provide resources to translate them into action. I ask myself if this is all. It is a dance of words, a verbal exercise.

I acknowledge that progress has been made and significant good work has been done recently. However, more is needed because unless the objectives we discussed this morning are implemented locally and sufficiently resourced they will remain aspirations. In fact, it may well be left to another Government to implement these fine objectives.

I thank the Deputies for their contributions and their support for the ratification of this convention. It is no more than I would have expected given the support for the protection of heritage which Deputies indicated in their contributions. I appreciate and share the concerns expressed on a number of different issues, some of which I intend to refer to in the limited time available.

Deputies will be aware that in the budget £23 million was allocated to the National Monuments and Historic Properties Service. Many capital projects involving archaeological excavations were included up to a total cost of £22 million. A sum of £1 million was set aside for specific archaeological excavations and surveys. One example of a capital project from the £22 million is Trim Castle which will cost £700,000. There is investment in this area.

I acknowledge the work done by the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Michael Higgins. He has put emphasis on this area since the Department was established and great progress has been made. He has not adopted the stance of being a Minister for good news which was the view taken by Deputy de Valera. He has championed the cause of the Department and has been effective in progressing matters in the area of archaeology. One example is the legislative framework provided by the National Monuments and Planning Acts which provide an effective framework to protect archaeological heritage. The Department liaises with local authorities when planning applications are made. Some Deputies made torrid representations to the Department to withdraw heritage or archaeological objections to some of these applications. People in this House are well aware that the Department is active in this area.

I welcome Deputy de Valera's support for the convention and agree with her positive views on the work of the Discovery Programme and the importance of its findings. I also share the Deputy's view of the planning system, especially where archaeological heritage is concerned. I am pleased to assure the Deputy that excellent co-operation between the Heritage Service, my Department and the planning authorities continues to exist. The question of access to archaeological sites and monuments was also raised by Deputy de Valera. My Department is committed to affording the greatest possible access to our shared heritage. I welcome the number of developments in the area of industrial archaeology. The establishment of the Industrial Heritage Association and a report produced by the Heritage Council on an inventory of industrial archaeology were most welcome too.

I also welcome the unqualified support of Deputy Quill for the ratification of the convention. She mentioned the plundering of our heritage in the past. Unfortunately, this is true. However, the work of the Heritage Service, the planning authorities and the Heritage Council is aimed at ensuring the preservation of our shared heritage for future generations. I am satisfied that the legislative, administrative and financial resources are adequate to ensure the protection of our archaeological heritage and to meet future requirements of the convention.

The aim of archaeology is to increase our understanding of past societies. The convention lays special emphasis on education and dissemination of information on archaeological heritage. Archaeological sites will help to develop our tourism industry, especially in the west. People are becoming more educated about the positive role of these artefacts and areas such as the Céide Fields mentioned by Deputy Quill. This Department has produced an archaeological map of sites to encourage people to visit these areas and the map is also to be used by the tourism industry.

In the long run, the ratification of the convention will assist the Department towards improving matters in Europe. Deputy de Valera mentioned that there seemed to be a reluctance to bring the convention before the House. There are over 40 countries in Europe and only 11 have ratified this convention to date, so we are among the first third. We are anxious to see the convention ratified further. As Deputy de Valera will know, much examination must occur between Departments to evaluate how the convention would affect them. Prudent advancement has been made and I am delighted that this convention will be agreed to today.

Question put and agreed to.