October 12th, 20203
A monumental day yesterday - the Historic and Archaeological Heritage Bill has completed its legislative journey through the Houses of the Oireachtas and will now go to the Áras to become law. We are fortunate to enjoy a rich, layered and varied historic heritage in Ireland, and that's what makes the laws that protect it so important.
This Bill, once enacted, will replace the existing National Monuments Act 1930 to 2014, and other related legislation, and introduce a range of novel provisions designed to provide for the protection and conservation of Ireland’s historic heritage. It marks a significant and much-needed modernisation of the existing laws that have protected Ireland’s valued heritage for almost a century. The Bill will grant our historic heritage protections that are fit for our modern age, not only strengthening our connection with the past, but safeguarding Irish heritage for future generations.
Under the new legislation, finds of newly discovered archaeological sites will be protected, and existing sites and structures will be afforded greater legal protection, and will enable the State to ratify several important international conventions with respect to the protection of historic heritage.
It builds extensively upon the existing legislative framework and significantly bolsters and broadens the measures currently in place that protect, and will enforce the protection of, our monuments and archaeological objects. Elements of this legislation will also help us to realise a number of actions set out in Heritage Ireland 2030, our national heritage plan.
Ireland’s historic heritage is internationally renowned, and with good reason. As guardians of that heritage it is incumbent on us to protect this non-renewable resource. The passage of the Historic and Archaeological Heritage and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas is a major achievement, as it will ensure that our historic heritage is afforded the most comprehensive and up-do-date legislative framework.
Having steered this legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas over the last number of years, its passage is of course a momentous day for me as Minister, but it couldn't have happened without many years of hard work by our officials in our National Monuments Service and the Department of Housing. I'm immensely grateful to them for their efforts and their dedication, and grateful also to all the Oireachtas members who helped strengthen the Historic and Archaeological Heritage Bill on its journey to being enacted.