The Irish Heritage Council. (Special Section)

By Mount, Charles | Antiquity, June 2002 | Go to article overview

The Irish Heritage Council. (Special Section)


Mount, Charles, Antiquity


Key-words: Ireland, Heritage Council, heritage management, heritage appraisal, national heritage plan, archaeology site loss, Rural Environment Protection Scheme, landscape characterization, conservation plans, education, research

Introduction

The Heritage Act 1995 established An Chomhairle Oidhreachta, the Irish Heritage Council, as a statutory body with responsibility to propose policies and priorities for the identification, protection, preservation and enhancement of the Irish national heritage. The Heritage Act defines heritage as including both cultural and natural heritage and specifically refers to: monuments, archaeological objects, heritage objects, architectural heritage, flora, fauna, wildlife habitats, landscapes, seascapes, wrecks, geology, heritage gardens and parks and inland waterways.

The Heritage Council's function is to promote interest, education, knowledge and pride in, and facilitate the appreciation and enjoyment of the national heritage, co-operate with public authorities, educational bodies and other organizations and persons in the promotion of the functions of the Council, and promote the co-ordination of all activities relating to the functions of the Council. The Heritage Council may make recommendations to the Minister for Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and the Islands (AHGI) on any matter relating to the Council's functions. The Council is also a statutory planning consultee under the Planning Acts. The Council has a complementary role to the other state agencies involved in Heritage, such as Duchas the Heritage Service, and the other sections of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, and the National Museum of Ireland; and is a member of the Council of Cultural Institutions.

The organizational structure consists of the Heritage Council, with its Chair, and its members who are appointed by the Minister for a term of five years. Four Standing Committees on archaeology, architecture, wildlife and inland waterways are mandated by the Heritage Act. They are made up of members of the Heritage Council, who chair by rotation, three Ministerial appointees, and co-optees. Four additional committees have been established, dealing with Museums and Archives, Education and Awareness, Audit and Finance and the Marine. The Council is responsible for all major strategic and financial matters, structural development, procedures and performance review, whilst the committees perform functions delegated by the Council and advise the Council on strategy and actions in their functional areas. Working Groups carry out specific time-limited tasks for Council or Committees.

The permanent staff consists of a Chief Executive and professional staff including an archaeologist, architect, ecologist, marine biologist, planner, museums officer and archives officer, education and communications officer, grants officer, personnel officer, a financial controller, grants administrator and five support staff.

The first Council served from 1995-2000 and the current Council will serve until 2005 (also see Eogan, this volume). The medium-term strategy of the organization is developed in the form of a five-year plan (Heritage Council 2001) covering the years 2001-5, which is agreed by the Minister for AHGI, and has been developed within the context of the National Heritage Plan (NHP) which is due to be published by the Minister in 2002. The Council's plan lays out a programme of activities and includes indicative funding targets. On the basis of this plan each professional officer, in consultation with the relevant committee, produces and implements an annual work plan. The organisation's funding comes from two sources. Administrative expenses, 12.6% of total expenditure, is funded from the exchequer. All other funding comes from the National Lottery.

In 2002 the Council has a total budget of 11.089 million [euro], with 1.862 million [euro] for archaeology. …

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