NATIONAL HERITAGE PLAN

 

MARTIN MORRIS,

Sir, - One of the stranger happenings prior to the general election campaign was the discreet publication of the National Heritage Plan. That document is the first of its kind in the history of the State and, in her foreword to it, the former Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Ms Síle de Valera, described it as "one of my key achievements" as Minister. Indeed, it was, so the lack of a large media launch just before the election was bizarre.

But then, just after the Government's re-election, the Taoiseach reorganised Departments (many would argue unnecessarily), and fragmented the Department of the Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. Now there is no cabinet member whose job title includes the word "heritage". No doubt the failure to highlight the National Heritage Plan was an early indication that this issue had slipped down the Government's agenda.

The "launch" of the plan was another significant development in the area of heritage to have occurred over recent years. Others included the establishment of the Heritage Council and the appointment of Heritage Officers by local authorities. In addition, great voluntary work has been done around the country.

The down-grading of heritage at government level is most regrettable and sends abroad a very negative signal.

Apparently, such projects as Campus Stadium Ireland will be prioritised in the lifetime of the new administration, but at what cost and to whom? - Yours, etc.,

MARTIN MORRIS, Drumming, Ardagh, Co Longford.