Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 5 July 2017
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
Preserving Ireland's Natural Heritage: Discussion
Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh gach duine. I got really worried when Mr. Lumley started mentioning the Pope. I spend my mornings in the Seanad avoiding the morning prayer. This place should always face outward. It should talk less and listen more and I am sorry Mr. Lumley did not get that same listening time from a colleague because he paints a grim picture which the Oireachtas needs to hear. The Pope is right. We are not the only species living on the planet and yet capitalism, imperialism and public policy still erode the fabric of the earth.
Turning to biodiversity, are we in the middle of a biodiversity action plan? Mr. Lumley has said that successive plans have been weak in scope. Is there a need to develop a new one alongside the Heritage Council and the Department?
In terms of the resources provided for the Heritage Council, some €6.2 million, the Irish Film Board regularly makes noise around the kind of budget allocation it would like. We are obviously in the middle of budget preparations now. Where has the Heritage Council been in terms of funding since 2008 compared to the current €6.2 million? Where would Mr. Starrett like it to go in the coming years?
We have also mentioned species decline. As Mr. Lumley has mentioned, the views of various non-governmental organisations and groups in respect of the Heritage Bill 2016 are well known. I share many of those views. In terms of legislation more broadly, is there a need to revise legislation in the area of the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000, national monuments legislation, the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997 and any other legislation which I might have missed which concerns heritage? Is there a need for the Minister to review, revise and modernise such legislation? Is there a need to update the national heritage plan alongside the Department?