Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Ceisteanna (218)

Bernard Durkan


218. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of historical sites that have been damaged in the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16947/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

All known archaeological monuments, of which there are in excess of 130,000, are entitled to protection under the National Monuments Acts.  Protection may be extended to previously unrecorded monuments by my Department entering them in the Register of Historic Monuments or the Record of Monuments and Places.  The Acts also allow me to make a preservation order where I consider a national monument to be at risk.

As Minister, I am the owner or guardian under the National Monuments Acts of approximately 1,000 national monuments located at over 760 sites.  Maintenance of such monuments is undertaken on my behalf by the Office of Public Works.  Local authorities are responsible under the Acts for maintaining the national monuments of which they are owners or guardians. 

My Department also liaises regularly with the utility and infrastructure providers and has agreed codes of practice with a number of these agencies aimed at safeguarding archaeological sites and monuments. In addition, awareness programmes are in place with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc and farm organisations that are aimed at raising awareness in relation to farming and archaeology.

Notwithstanding the wide ranging legal provisions and other programmes in place, damage to archaeological sites and monuments does occur from time to time. My Department records all reports of damage to recorded monuments. Such reports usually emanate from members of the public, local authorities or heritage-based NGOs.  Cases involving alleged wilful damage to monuments are followed up in liaison with An Garda Síochána and prosecutions initiated where appropriate. There have been a number of convictions for such offences in recent years.

Protected structures are covered separately under the Planning and Developments Acts and local authorities have the appropriate enforcement measures in these cases.

The following table outlines the number of investigations in to reports of threat or damage carried out by the National Monuments Service of my Department over the last ten years as published in the Department's Annual Report.