Dáil Éireann - Volume 518 - 12 April, 2000
Written Answers. - Underwater Archaeology.
Mr. Timmins Mr. Timmins
75. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands if she has completed a full inventory of vessels wrecked off the Irish coast in so far as these are known; the situation regarding protection of these wrecks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10929/00]
Miss de Valera Miss de Valera
Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera): As the Deputy is no doubt aware, an underwater archaeology unit was set up for a three year period in 1997 to undertake a sites and monuments record for maritime wrecks.
A desk top survey of recorded wrecks off our coast has now been completed and will form the basis of a record of monuments and places – RMP – for the purposes of section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment Act), 1994. Any person proposing to carry out or to cause or to permit the carrying out of any work in relation to a site of a historic wreck contained in the record of monuments and places will have to give me two months advance notice of the proposed work.
I must point out, however, that about 75% of the wrecks listed in the inventory are not site specific. They have been located only to the general area of the wrecking. The survey has produced documentation for more than 10,000 wrecks in Irish waters and as systematic recording of wrecks only really began in the 18th century there may be a further substantial number of unrecorded wrecks dating back to the medieval period and earlier. These can only be identified and protected through dive surveys.
All wrecks over 100 years old are protected by section 3 of the National Monuments (Amendment ) Act, 1987 which provides blanket protection for these wrecks but also enables protection to be given, in the form of an underwater heritage order, to any other specific wreck. Any dives on protected wreck sites are subject to  licensing under section 3(5) of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1987.
Dáil Éireann 518 Written Answers. Underwater Archaeology.