I propose to take Questions Nos. 344, 345 and 346 together.
I refer the Deputy back to the Topical Issue, To discuss the exclusion of Early Monastic Sites from Ireland’s Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, debated in the Dáil on the 26 May 2021 which outlined the processes, supports, and engagements that have been part of the advancement of the revised Tentative List of World Heritage Properties to date.
In January 2019, my Department initiated its review of the Tentative List. My Department has invited all local authorities to submit applications to it with respect to properties of natural and/or cultural heritage within their area of responsibility, which may meet the requirements for inclusion on the Tentative List. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021.
My Department's policy is for applications to be promoted and sponsored by the relevant local authorities in order to ensure continuity throughout the process. Other organizations, community groups or individuals interested in submitting an application have been encouraged to apply in collaboration with the local authority and support has been provided when appropriate to do so. The role of the local authorities to lead engagement with community organisations on the ground is crucial in order to facilitate public consultation and wider stakeholder involvement, particularly in light of the requirement under the UNESCO Operational Guidelines for participatory planning and stakeholder consultation.
My Department’s National Monuments Service has been liaising very closely with those local authorities that have expressed interest in having a site within their county boundaries included on the revised Tentative List, providing advice and guidance on an ongoing basis and encouraging them to engage with relevant stakeholders at a local level.
My Department has engaged with all local authorities who expressed an interest in having a site within their county boundaries included on the revised Tentative List. This engagement has included facilitating two World Heritage Workshops in collaboration with ICOMOS Ireland, one held in Killarney in February 2020 and a follow-up workshop online in June 2020. These workshops focussed on next steps in the review process, World Heritage knowledge sharing, management of serial and transboundary applications, and the requirements of completing the Tentative List application form. At these workshops the challenges in the preparation of nomination documentation and management plans for prospective World Heritage properties was detailed and the need for wide public consultation and local stakeholder engagement was reinforced.
Following attendance at the workshops, interested parties were requested to submit draft Tentative List applications for review and feedback to ensure that the next Tentative List features properties that are well-placed to progress to World Heritage nomination. Throughout November and December 2020 my Department facilitated feedback in relation to the draft applications through individual online meetings with a World Heritage Expert.
My Department has also commissioned studies to further inform the review process for the Tentative List:
- Peer review of the 2014 Burren Technical Evaluation as a World Heritage Site, 2020;
- Glendalough OUV Study, expected June 2021;and
- Valentia Cable Station and Associated Sites, Heritage Study, 2020.
The basis for not anticipating an application for The Early Medieval Monastic Sites, other than Glendalough Monastic Site, is because despite the huge encouragement there was no engagement with my Department by all the relevant local authorities in respect of a revised application.
The anticipation for receiving applications in respect of The Burren, Glendalough Monastic Site, The Passage Tomb Landscapes of Sligo, The Royal Sites, and Valentia Transatlantic Cable Station is based on the level of engagement withthe process by and from the relevant local authorities, working in conjunction with community organisations. Draft applications have been received for these properties and the local authorities are working with relevant stakeholders to demonstrate that there is sufficient support for the project in the community.