Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht): Statements
Josepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
In general, we do not have the phenomenon of spontaneous combustion in Ireland. I can get more details for the Deputy but I know that since the restrictions came into place on 12 March there have been seven wildfires. One occurred in Killarney and the other six in Wicklow. I am not personally aware of the fire in Donegal. The Deputy referred to a register of fires but we already have one within the Department. We keep track of all fires. Some of the fires in Wicklow seem to have been for agricultural purposes. However, sometimes wildfires are not for such purposes and are set deliberately. I do not know if the Deputy was here earlier when we talked about the use of drones. We are conducting one of the biggest eye-in-the-sky operations in an effort to clamp down on this type of activity. The sheer scale of the land involved and the remoteness of the locations causes difficulties. It is impossible for all of the rangers to be everywhere all of the time. Most of them are on patrol until 9 p.m. and most fires take place in the afternoon or early evening.
On the opening of heritage sites, under the road map most of the visitor sites, cafes and so on will reopen on 29 June but we will be very much guided by public health advice on that.