Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Ceisteanna (789)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

789. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans under the NDP to invest in an enhanced Valentia Island cable station; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10056/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Valentia Cable Station is a unique part of Valentia and Ireland's heritage and is integral to the history of modern telecommunications. It was the easternmost point of the Transatlantic Cable that provided a permanent connection between Europe and North America through its counterpart in Heart's Content, Canada, for one hundred years between 1866 and 1966. The Cable Station is also an important architectural feature in its own right, having been designed by leading architects of the nineteenth century.

Late in 2017, the Canadian authorities announced that the Heart's Content Cable Station had been placed on its Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. This is a significant development in the creation of a potential transboundary bid for UNESCO World Heritage status involving both Cable Stations.

As a precursor to being nominated to UNESCO, a site must first go through a comprehensive assessment process at national level that would lead, with UNESCO's agreement, to its placement on Ireland’s World Heritage Tentative List. Later this year, my Department will be inviting applications from candidate sites for inclusion on the upcoming 2020 Tentative List.  Inclusion on the list will ultimately be determined by whether a site meets relevant criteria relating, inter alia, to outstanding universal value, availability of adequate site management and protection resources, and the extent of stakeholder engagement and support for the bid.

My Department is in ongoing contact with Kerry County Council and its Canadian counterpart in relation to the potential World Heritage application and has informed both parties that Ireland will support the Valentia bid once it meets the qualifying criteria. There is specific reference too to the Cable Station in the National Development Plan and my Department will engage with all the key stakeholders with a view to agreeing an appropriate investment programme for its refurbishment.

I understand that a considerable amount of preparatory work has already been done locally on the Valentia proposal, including essential repairs to the buildings which were grant aided by my Department. The Department will continue to assist with the preparation of the Tentative List bid, including providing as much advice, guidance and support as possible to Kerry County Council as the lead organisation at local level.