September 26, 2023
Sinn Féin offers Minister of State Noonan a last chance to fix Heritage Bill – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

(Gaeilge thíos)

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has tabled over one hundred amendments to the Historic and Archaeological Heritage and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2023 as it is due to come before Report Stage in the Dáil tomorrow.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh described the coming Dáil debate as “the last chance to fix this Bill” which leading heritage experts have criticised for cementing in place a failed system.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson said:

“It is unfortunate that after tabling 128 amendments at Committee Stage, I am forced to table almost the same number yet again because Minister of State, Malcolm Noonan, has refused to listen to experts and opposition alike.

“We have seen some small progress, with Minister Noonan now proposing to accept Sinn Féin’s amendments which will expand protection to cover battlefields, the amenity value of a monument’s setting, linguistic heritage, and archaeological objects associated with historic periods or subjects rather than events and individuals alone.

“Sinn Féin’s input also now means the elected councillors on local authorities will have a greater role in decisions affecting monuments in their areas, and that any warning labels or signs required under this legislation will be in Irish as well as English.

“These are, however, only minor improvements, and in many instances the Minister has fallen short of what was being sought. In terms of cross-border heritage, for example, Minister Noonan has agreed that Westminster should be consulted, but leaves no room for input from Good Friday Institutions like Stormont or even local authorities in the North.

“Most troubling, there has been no effort on the part of Minister Noonan to address the serious concerns around the lack of accountability and oversight in heritage protection.

“Where is the protection for historic landscapes, called for in the original expert report that proposed this Bill back in 2009? Why is there no proposal to reconstitute the National Monuments Advisory Council or even examine the need for a specific Culture and Heritage Ombudsman, to ensure some degree of oversight? How are we to take this legislation seriously, if there’s no effort to address the hands-off approach to enforcement that meant only six prosecutions over the past ten years?

“Sinn Féin has prepared amendments to address all of these shortcomings, following engagement with experts in heritage.

“A common concern raised by these experts is that this new Bill will do nothing to prevent another monument going the way of Wood Quay, Tara Valley or Carrickmines Castle: destroyed for profit in spite of their unique value.

“The heritage of Ireland, which we hold in trust for future generations, requires checks and balances, and a government that takes its protection seriously. It’s time for the Green Party and Minister Noonan to step up.”

Tugann Sinn Féin deis deireanach don Aire Stáit Noonan an Bille Oidhreachta a dheisiú – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Tá os cionn céad leasuithe molta ag urlabhraí Gaeilge, Gaeltachta, Ealaíon, Cultúir agus Oidhreachta Shinn Féin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, ar Bhille na hOidhreachta Stairiúla agus Seandálaíochta agus Forálacha Ilghnéitheacha 2023 agus é ar tí teacht os comhair na Dála amárach do Céim na Tuarascála.

Dar leis an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, is ionann an díospóireacht a tharlóidh sa Dáil agus “an deis deireanach chun an Bille seo a dheisiú”, Bille atá cáinte ag saineolaithe toisc an córas lochtach a dhaingniú.

Dúirt urlabhraí Shinn Féin:

“Is mór an trua tar éis 128 leasú a mholadh ag Céim an Choiste gur gá dom beagnach an líon céanna a chur isteach arís toisc nár thug an tAire Stáit Malcolm Noonan cluas éisteachta do saineolaithe nó do lucht an fhreasúra.

“Tá dul chun cinn beag feicithe againn, agus an tAire Noonan anois ag moladh é féin leasuithe Shinn Féin a ghlacadh a dhéanfaidh cosaintí a leathnú amach go suíomhanna cogaidh, luach timpeallachta séadchomhartha mar áis, oidhreacht teangeolaíoch, agus rudaí seandálaíochta a bhaineann le tréimhsí nó ábhair stairiúla seachas imeachtaí nó daoine aonaracha amháin.

“De thairbhe ionchur Shinn Féin freisin, beidh ról níos láidre ag comhairleoirí tofa ar údaráis áitiúil i gcinnithe maidir le séadchomharthaí ina gceantair féin, agus beidh aon lipéid rabhaidh nó comharthaí atá ag teastáil de réir an reachtaíocht seo i nGaeilge chomh maith leis an Béarla.

“Níl iontu seo áfach ach feabhsúcháin fíorbheaga, agus in a lán áiteanna tá teipithe ag an Aire an méid a bhí á lorg a chur i bhfeidhm. I gcás an oidhreacht tras-teorann mar shampla, aontaíonn an tAire Noonan gur chóir dul i mbun comhairle le Westminster, ach níl aon spás tugtha aige d’ionchur ó institiúidí Aoine an Chéasta ar nós Cnoc Anfa nó údaráis áitiúil ó Thuaidh fiú.

“Níos measa fós, níl iarracht ar bith déanta ag an Aire Noonan dul i ngleic leis na cúiseanna imní atá ann mar gheall ar an easpa cuntasaíocht nó maoirseacht i gcosaint na hoidhreachta.

“Cá bhfuil an cosaint do tírdhreacanna stairiúla, mar a bhí á lorg sa bhuntuarascáil saineolach a mhol an Bille seo ar an gcéad dul síos i 2009? Cén fáth nach bhfuil aon moladh ann chun an Comhairle Comhairleach um Séadchomharthaí Náisiúnta a athbhunú nó fiú an gá le hOmbudsman ar leith don Chultúr agus don Oidhreacht a scrúdú, chun a chinntiú go bhfuil leibhéal éicint maoirseacht ann? Conas ar féidir linn bheidh dáiríre faoin reachtaíocht seo muna bhfuil iarracht ar bith ann deileáil leis an gcur chuige réchúiseach ó thaobh cur i bhfeidhm de nach bhfuil ach tar éis sé cúisithe a bhaint amach le deich mbliana anuas?

“Tá leasuithe ullmhaithe ag Sinn Féin chun deileáil leis na bearnaí seo go léir, tar eis labhairt le saineolaithe ar an oidhreacht.

“Buairt atá léirithe ag na saineolaithe seo go léir ná nach ndéanfaidh an Bille seo faic chun a chinntiú nach dtarlódh do séadchomhartha eile mar a tharla i gCé an Adhmaid, i nGleann Teamhair, nó i gCaisleán Charraig Mhaighin: scriosta ar son an bhrabús in aineoinn an luach aonarach acu.

“Teastaíonn srianta agus ceartúcháin ó oidhreacht na hÉireann, atá faoi chúram againn do na glúnta amach romhainn, agus teastaíonn rialtas atá dáiríre faoina chosaint. Tá sé in am don Chomhaontas Glas agus don Aire Noonan gníomhú.”

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