Dáil Éireann - Volume 314 - 23 May, 1979

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Urban Archaeology Joint Study.

20. Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for [1268] Education in relation to the joint study on urban archaeology being carried out by the National Museum and the Office of Public Works if he will indicate (a) its terms of reference; (b) when it commenced and when it is likely to be completed; (c) if the findings will be published; (d) the number of staff in each institution involved part-time or wholetime in the study; (e) the amount of money so far expended on the study; (f) the urban areas so far surveyed and those remaining to be surveyed; (g) if publication of the results of the survey will assist urban planning and avoid unnecessary conflict between the interests of development and those of archaeology; and (h) the steps, if any, taken to secure a speedy finalisation of the study.

Mr. Tunney: The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:—

(a) “that the National Museum and the Office of Public Works should jointly, and in consultation with the Department of the Environment, prepare a paper setting out a plan for urban archaeology which would: (i) indicate the sites of major significance in respect of which special care ought to be exercised and special procedures adopted in relation to their proposed redevelopment; (ii) indicate the procedures to be adopted in relation to sites referred to at (i) and in relation to areas discovered in the course of development to be of archaeological significance and therefore requiring emergency excavation; (iii) suggest means of ensuring the long-term co-ordination of the policies of the various institutions involved in urban archaeology.”

(b) The work was initiated in March 1977. It is not possible to state when it may be completed.

(c) A decision has not been taken in relation to the question of publication of the findings.

(d) One officer in each institution is involved part-time on this work as part of the officer's normal duties.

(e) An apportionment has not been made of the cost of the time of the officers involved in the project.

(f) To date, parts of Dublin, Cork, [1269] Limerick and Wexford have been surveyed. It is not known at this stage what other areas may be surveyed in the future.

(g) It would not be possible to be categorical as to what contribution publication of the results of the survey may make in relation to urban planning.

(h) The survey has to proceed at a pace which has due regard to the general pressure of the overall responsibilities of the staff involved and the complexity of the task itself.

Mr. E. Collins: Is Wood Quay part of the area under study by the joint study group?

Mr. Tunney: Not specifically. On the other hand, consideration of Wood Quay would not have been excluded. The Deputy will accept that in respect of the terms of reference they, unfortunately, were by their very nature rather vague and ambiguous. They were not of the kind that would have indicated more specifically the amount of staff that should be designated and indicate, with precision, when a report should be made available. I am in spirit with the terms of reference and I am hoping I can take some measures which will expedite the results my predecessor and I would like to have on hand.

Mr. E. Collins: Is it not too late for Wood Quay now?

Mr. Tunney: I understand that clearing is taking place at the moment at Wood Quay.

Mr. Enright: In regard to the number of staff at each institution, I should like to know if there is only one member at each institution on a part-time basis?

Mr. Tunney: That is correct.

Mr. Enright: What is the total number?

Mr. Tunney: Two.

Mr. Enright: On that basis it will be a major study when it is produced.

Mr. Tunney: If the Deputy read the [1270] terms of reference he would see that there is no indication as to the number that should be on it or who should be on it. It was a statement of results being made available without indicating more precisely how that should be achieved.

Mr. Enright: I am sure the Minister will accept that many items of historical and archaeological importance are being devastated daily and for that reason appointing a staff of two on a part-time basis for this study amounts to nothing more than white-washing.

Mr. Tunney: I do not accept the assertion of daily devastation of monuments and if the Deputy has any knowledge of such he should let me know forthwith.

Mr. E. Collins: Wood Quay.

Mr. Tunney: I asked the Deputy who made the assertion to help me ascertain where the devastation is taking place and the Deputy's reference to Wood Quay is not referring to facts.

Mr. E. Collins: What about the long sword that was found on the corporation dump? Is that not proof positive?

Mr. Tunney: If the Deputy tables a question relating to that matter, I will answer it.