DUCHAS TO BE CLOSED DOWN
Dúchas - the Irish equivalent
of English Heritage - is being closed down. Some of its functions
will pass to local authorities and others to the Department of
Environment which will have the word ‘Heritage’ inserted
into its title.
In a press release,
the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (IAI) condemned this
step.’ They say the move ‘raises serious doubts regarding
the commitment of the Government to the protection of the archaeological
heritage ... Perhaps this is indicative of an underlying trend
by Government to pandering to the Construction/Development lobby
with regard to archaeology in particular and to the built heritage
in general.’ Certainly this seems borne out by the actions
of the Irish government earlier this year when they forced a motorway
building scheme through the 13th century Carrickmines Castle site
in South Dublin despite local protests and allegations of corruption.
The Irish archaeologists
add that placing responsibility for Dúchas into the Department
of the Environment is ‘inappropriate’ given ‘the
development agenda of that department.’ They say: ‘The
expansion of the heritage roles of Local Authorities is also of
concern, particularly with regard to Archaeological Heritage.
There are many instances where Local Authorities have not implemented
the recommendations of Dúchas, whereby the Archaeological
Heritage has been endangered.’ The IAI say ‘what is
really required is a more independent heritage protection agency
outside the influence
of government’ and call for the government to rescind the
decision to abolish Dúchas.
The Minister of the
Environment, Martin Cullen, said that the proposed new arrangements
would ‘optimise organisational resources.’
Irish Heritage data website.
IAI article of concern
News Report from Irish Times on the abolition of Dúchas