Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Ceisteanna (216, 217, 220)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

216. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of sites or buildings nationally in respect of which preservation or restorative works are in hand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16945/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

217. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of protected structures nationally deemed to be in need of further protective works, be they heritage buildings or sites such as burial mounds or megalithic tombs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16946/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

220. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she continues to support heritage or interpretative centres nationally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16950/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 216, 217 and 220 together.

As Minister, I am the owner or guardian under the National Monuments Acts of approximately 1,000 national monuments located at approximately 750 sites. The management and maintenance of these monuments, including the provision of visitor and interpretative facilities, is the statutory responsibility of the Office of Public Works (OPW).  Details of its ongoing work programme would be available from OPW. Local authorities are responsible under the National Monuments Acts for maintaining the national monuments of which they are owners or guardians.

My Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) provides ongoing funding support for the visitor and interpretive centres located in our national parks, including introductory interpretive videos and customised leaflets and booklets focusing on the natural heritage of the area. These are updated from time to time as opportunity and resources allow. Exhibitions on natural heritage are also presented both in temporary and permanent form. The most recently added permanent exhibition is located in Killarney House and this is geared towards first time visitors to Killarney National Park.

Through its partnership with Fáilte Ireland, and with support from the Rural Regeneration Development Fund, NPWS also intends to develop new visitor centres in some sites whilst upgrading visitor centres/information points in others. This work will be prioritised and implemented over a phased period of ten years.

My Department also provides direct financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) and the Historic Structures Fund (HSF), formerly the Structures at Risk Fund (SRF), which are administered by local authorities.

On 28 March this year I announced funding of €4.3m for 478 projects under these schemes. Details of these projects are available on my Department's and on local authority websites. 

The Built Heritage Investment Scheme is designed to leverage private capital for investment in a significant number of labour-intensive, small scale conservation projects across the country and to support the employment of skilled and experienced conservation professionals, craftspeople and tradespersons in the repair of the historic built environment. The scheme helps with the repair and conservation of structures that are protected under the Planning and Development Acts or within Architectural Conservation Areas. It is administered by local authorities.

The Historic Structures Fund is for conservation works to heritage structures, in both private and public ownership. The primary focus of the Historic Structures Fund is on conservation and enhancement of historic structures and buildings for the benefit of communities and the public. The fund is generally administered through the local authorities who prepare a shortlist of applications and each one can send a maximum of three private and one public project forward for assessment by my Department.

Grants under Stream One of the HSF are for amounts of between €15,000 and €50,000. Under Stream Two a small number of larger grants, up to €200,000, was also available for historic structures in private and public ownership. 

The Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also provides grants for the protection and preservation of the built heritage. It is primarily a matter for the Heritage Council to decide how its funding should be allocated across the range of research, education and conservation programmes it supports.  Further information about its Grant schemes is available from the Heritage Council and on its website www.heritagecouncil.ie.

In terms of future funding, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027 represents a major capital investment scheme of €1.2 billion in funding over the next 10 years as part of Project Ireland 2040. This plan will see increased investment in protecting and celebrating our heritage across the country. More details on the commencement and completion dates for projects and programmes, as well as the timing of the expenditure in relation to them, will emerge as we go through the process of appraisal and planning as required under the Public Spending Code.