October 10th, 2023
In a landmark moment for heritage funding in Ireland, I have today announced a combined budget allocation of €166 million for Ireland’s built and natural heritage. This marks a more than 130% increase since I took office in 2020, when the total funding for heritage stood at €71 million, and the fourth consecutive increase in Heritage funding.
When I became Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, I committed to doing everything I could to enhance the ability of the Department and agencies under my remit to deliver on the ground for communities, for our built and archeological heritage, and for nature. I set out to address the historic underfunding of heritage and biodiversity, and to demonstrate this government’s, and my own, deep-rooted commitment to the conservation of Ireland's rich natural heritage, historic buildings and archaeological monuments.
Today’s increased funding for Heritage underpins that commitment, and it represents a real, tangible investment in our communities, our countryside, and our quality of life. I’m proud to announce today that the transformation of our National Parks and Wildlife Service can continue apace, with a massively increased budget of €67.5 million for 2024. That’s up 28% on last year, and that’s funding that goes directly to managing and enhancing our national parks and nature reserves, to boots on the ground tackling issues like wildlife crime and invasive species, and to reintroducing beloved species like the white tailed eagle or the osprey. You simply can’t put a value on what these kinds of measures mean to people.
I've also included a significant allocation to improve Ireland’s water quality and provide the funding we need to get more inspectors out in the field to support farmers, and chart a course to cleaner, free-flowing rivers with a programme to remove man made barriers.
Meanwhile, the Heritage Council, based in Kilkenny, has seen its funding more than doubled in my time as Minister, to €16 million for 2024. That will enable us to deliver a full complement of Biodiversity Officers nationally by the end of next year, as well as funding the ongoing delivery of vital resources, from the National Biodiversity Data Centre to Local Authority heritage teams.
At the same time, funding for a range of built heritage grant schemes will allow us to continue to support the incredible work of individuals and communities preserving Ireland’s historic buildings, structures and monuments. The impact of these grants can be seen in towns and cities across the country, and the delivery of those conservation measures means precious traditional skills are maintained and passed on to new generations.
In every sense this is an historic funding package for Heritage that recognises that communities are at the heart of our efforts to protect and restore Ireland’s precious heritage. And to that end I’m pleased to announce that our increased NPWS funding is also paving the way for a new Nature Conservation Volunteer Programme, so the public can roll up their sleeves and play their part in the job of restoring nature.
Budget 2024 - Heritage Allocations:
Through the provision of grants under the Community Monuments Fund, the Built Heritage Investment Scheme, and the Historic Structures Fund, Built Heritage capital funding of €19 million in 2024 will provide significant supports to communities and individuals engaged in the preservation of historic structures and monuments across the country.
With its funding increasing in 2024 to €67.5 million, the National Parks and Wildlife Service will remain the cornerstone of Ireland’s nature conservation efforts. Funding for the NPWS has increased from €28.7 million in 2020, supporting initiatives including the expansion and enhancement of national parks, invasive species removal, wildlife crime enforcement, species reintroduction programmes.
With an increased funding allocation of €16 million for 2024 (up from €7.5 million in 2020), the Heritage Council can support the delivery of Heritage services through Heritage Units in Local Authorities, including Biodiversity Officers, Heritage Officers, Architectural Conservation Officers, and archivists.
An 11.5% funding increase in water quality will accelerate efforts aimed at achieving cleaner, free-flowing rivers by addressing man-made barriers and improving hydromorphology, as well as funding additional inspectors to ensure the Nitrates Directive is being properly applied.