Dáil Éireann - Volume 584 - 29 April, 2004
Written Answers - Archaeological Sites.
Mr. Stanton Mr. Stanton
25. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to raise awareness about the value and importance of Ireland’s archaeological heritage; his further plans to prevent damage and destruction of archaeological sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12315/04]
Mr. Gallagher Mr. Gallagher
Mr. Gallagher: My Department operates a number of initiatives to assist in raising awareness of the archaeological heritage. Approximately 120,000 monuments receive protection as part of the record of monuments and places, RMP. The RMP is available for public viewing on a county by county basis. As part of its current work programme, my Department has started to update the RMP and to consider making it available on CD-ROM and via the Internet. My Department is also responsible for the Archaeological Survey of Ireland, ASI, which produces an inventory of all known monuments on a rolling basis. Surveys in 14 counties have been published in book format.
My Department is considering using the tool of the Internet to make its resources on the archaeological heritage available to a wider audience. Along with the RMP and the ASI inventories, the making available by Internet access of site excavation reports held by my Department is also being considered. In the meanwhile, my Department provides funding for an annual publication summarising all excavations in the country. Funding is also provided so that this information can be available on the excavations.ie website. The Department’s archaeological archive, which contains the original RMP fieldwork files and copies of reports submitted on foot of archaeological licences, is available to the public.
The focus of awareness with the farming community is through Teagasc. My staff give talks to farmers who are participating in the rural environment protection scheme. The Department has also published a booklet, “Good Farming  Practice and Archaeology”, which will be distributed through Teagasc offices. The Department is actively engaging with the development sector to ensure that archaeological issues are considered at the earliest stage in the development process and, to this end, I have agreed codes of practice for the protection of the archaeological heritage with a number of development bodies such as the National Roads Authority, Bord Gáis, the Irish Concrete Federation, Coillte and the ESB national grid. These codes are published and are available publicly. Furthermore, staff of my Department regularly give their time to make presentations to local historical groups and societies.
Overall, I am happy that good progress is being made to raise awareness of our archaeological heritage and I hope to build on this to generate further awareness. On the issue of damage to archaeological sites, there is evidence to show that this is low and reducing. I believe also that a revision and consolidation of the National Monuments Acts, which is now in hand, will strengthen protection.
Dáil Éireann 584 Written Answers Archaeological Sites.