Free entry for children under 12 years to heritage sites with a cover charge is to be introduced by Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Kevin “Boxer’’ Moran.
Mr Moran told the Seanad he would make a formal announcement in a few weeks following a full assessment of the operational needs surrounding the proposal.
“Such a scheme would be a very progressive development and foster a greater awareness of the value of our national culture among our young,’’ he added.
“The scheme would encourage greater participation among families and a desire to visit these sites.’’
Mr Moran, who was making his first appearance in the Seanad as Minister of State, said the OPW already operated a free scheme for school visits which had been in place for many years and this would remain unchanged. He was replying to Fianna Fáil Senator Dr Keith Swanick who said all OPW sites should be open to children free of charge.
Dr Swanick said there had been much talk recently about the need to move the education system away from the reliance on memory and recitation, and focus more on learning through experience.
“Visits to various sites steeped in history will not only inspire creativity but also create life-long memories,’’ he added. He said Paris was a city that could be looked to when examining such a plan. While it was an expensive city, those under 26 years and EU citizens were entitled to free entry into some of the finest and most popular museums and monuments there, Dr Swanick added.