Tuesday, 2 May 2017
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
World Heritage Sites
Ireland’s current World Heritage Tentative List has come about from a very comprehensive process undertaken by a panel of Irish and international heritage experts specifically appointed for that purpose. The process included full public consultation and an in-depth review of all proposed candidate sites.
In the meantime, my Department has engaged with local authorities and local groups from the areas with proposals on the Tentative List to gauge the extent of the support available to advance the proposals and to clarify the work and resources required for that purpose. The fundamental requirement is that each site must be capable of demonstrating Outstanding Universal Value to UNESCO.
Of the sites featuring on the Tentative List, the greater progress so far has been with the Royal Sites serial nomination which includes Cashel, Dún Ailinne, the Hill of Uisneach, the Rathcroghan Complex, the Tara Complex and Navan Fort (Eamhain Macha). Technical evaluations have been produced for each of the six component sites and my Department is holding ongoing meetings of stakeholders from all six locations to review progress and to chart the next steps. It was agreed that the technical evaluations would be sent for international peer review following which work will need to begin on developing draft management plans for each site, including designation of core and buffer zones in each case. A further plenary meeting of this group is scheduled for next June. The process will also have to take into account that some sites will be managed by the Office of Public Works, others by local authorities, that two are privately owned and that Eamhain Macha is in Northern Ireland. The culmination of these steps, which will also have to be adopted with each of the other tentative list nominations, would be the creation of the full nomination documents for each site for submission to UNESCO.
I am committed to supporting the current proposals in every way that I can. The process is undoubtedly both complex and lengthy and the work at every stage must be supported and developed from the local level up with stakeholder buy-in and commitment at every stage. While this adds to the timescale, it avoids a top down approach lacking the engagement necessary with local communities to secure full support for the proposals and for the protection and preservation of the sites into the future.