Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (121)

Alan Dillon

Ceist:

121. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the OPW heritage sites at Rockfleet Castle, Newport and Clare Island Castle in County Mayo; if funding will be ring-fenced to enhance the visitor experiences at each location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26374/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Rockfleet Castle (also known as Carrickahowley Castle or Granuaile's Castle) near Newport Co. Mayo is a privately-owned National Monument which is in the care of the Office of Public Works. Some years ago, the building was closed to the public because of certain serious Health and Safety risks arising. While work was underway in relation to mitigating these risks in recent years, it also became apparent that there was also a serious structural defect in the building which would require a substantial conservation project to correct. This will be addressed by the OPW's directly-employed skilled labour force in the context of their ongoing work to preserve National Monuments in their care in the western region. To this end, OPW is currently pursuing relevant statutory permissions to enable the project to go ahead including a Foreshore Licence Application, Natura Impact Statement and Ministerial Consent under the National Monuments Acts and is also in direct contact with Inland Fisheries Ireland. Anticipating a works start on site this year, the building was scaffolded prior to the Covid-19 shutdown and work will progress on the project as soon as it is practicable and safe for OPW staff to do so.

Clare Island Castle in Co. Mayo (reputed as another of Granuaile's Castles) is a National Monument in State Ownership standing on a prominent site at the entrance to Clare Island harbour. The Monument is a roofless ruin and, following engagement with a local group, OPW have carried out general maintenance work to improve the appearance of the site to visitors including cleaning and removal of debris surrounding the structure and provision of new fencing and interpretative signage. Some minor works remain to complete the landscaping at the site which will be addressed as soon as access is feasible.

As both these undertakings fall within the general maintenance and conservation remit of the OPW, they will be fully funded from within the OPW's allocation for National Monuments. Some expenditure has already obviously been incurred and it is expected that the remainder will fall into 2021.