The OPW provides keyholding and caretaker services at a number of National Monuments in the care of the State. These arrangements enable them to maintain control over vulnerable sites while at the same time ensuring that a level of supervised public access is maintained for visitors.
The stipend paid to keyholders and caretakers varies with the level of duties undertaken but it is fair to reflect that the amounts paid are not large and represent a token payment to these individuals who generally provide these services more out of respect and love for the Monument in their care rather than as a wage reflecting a full-time commitment. Notwithstanding this, the OPW has been conscious that the level of payment provided for these services is low and might be reviewed.
Understanding that the arrangements currently in place at sites around the country have been in force for many years and have been instituted at different times, the first step in the process, which has already been undertaken, has been to standardise payments across the portfolio and address local anomalies that have arisen in certain cases. The next stage in the process will be to perform a review of the size of the payments with a view to adopting a broad modest increase. I must stress that what is envisaged is not likely to result in a large increase in the stipend and certainly will not equate to a full-time wage for any individual involved who generally provide the services on an occasional / part-time basis. OPW intends to implement any changes to rates early in 2020 once the Estimates process has concluded and available resources for various commitments have been set out in its annual Business Plan.