To Heritage Action,
It seems that eco and heritage safeguards in our little country have changed again, largely behind the scenes and in silence. Since this week; 11/09/11, the control of rural planning; on Rath and hedgerow removal, field tree cutting, swamp drainage, habitat and heritage has been moved to the Department of Agriculture; a department known for making things easy for farmers and the cleaning away of things farmers don’t like. How do these new measures help us meet our commitments to safeguarding heritage, habitat, wildlife and in particular birds? Just last week Birdlife Europe reported that Europe has lost half its farm birds since 1980. Will the easier removal of hedgerows help birds? How do these new measures manage to slip the net of European Environmental standards and law, that other countries are obliged to conform to and obey? Do they overrule the old Forestry Act’s safeguards for country trees and hedges and if for instance a farmer wishes to remove four acres of hedgerow with its trees and plants now, do no regulation or restraint apply? And if his neighbour does the same what will be left of our land?
Also over the last few months while researching a recently destroyed heritage site I tried to access a Department of the Environment site; http://www.archaeology.ie/ , one of the main sites for heritage designation. However a message states that “The National Monuments Service regrets the continued unavailability of our website which is due to serious technical difficulties caused by a breach of security on the site”. Why does it take months for an Irish government site to be repaired and got working? The current Department of the Environment website states that national monuments are in the ownership or guardianship of the Minister of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and managed by the OPW, yet on another current government website it states that in March 2011, Brian Hayes was appointed by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny as Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for Public Service Reform and the OPW. So who now has responsibility for our heritage sites and indeed for the OPW in Ireland. The Department of Finance? Why suddenly are we doing everything wrong; why is Ireland now falling apart?