Written Answers. - National Parks.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Ceist:

140 Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands the reason Dúchas head office has discontinued its policy of meeting a group (details supplied) in County Kerry in accordance with the principles of the Rio declaration which requires Government conservation bodies to engage in consultation with local groups and committees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10308/00]

It has been a regular practice for a number of years for officials of Dúchas to meet interested local groups in County Kerry and elsewhere to discuss national parks issues. Some of these meetings are attended by local officials and some are also attended by officials from Dúchas head office. The demand for such meetings and consultation with local groups is increasing and I have encouraged this and indeed I have sought to extend and formalise this process to other areas of Dúchas operations throughout the country particularly in relation to setting up local liaison committees for special areas of conservation.

It is not practical for headquarters personnel to attend all meetings around the country and Dúchas management has decided that where possible such meetings should be serviced by local staff who in practice will have greater knowledge of the issues. Dúchas regional manager in Killarney is available to meet the group referred to by the Deputy and the group's chairperson was advised of this by letter on 23 March 1999. The regional manager has had informal discussions with some members of the group since that date but I understand that they have not sought a formal meeting with Dúchas.