by Gordon Kingston, Heritage Action

Go ahead John? Sorry, but the Irish Times doesn’t think so.

This Monday’s editorial responded to the submission of Ireland’s latest candidates for Unesco World Heritage status  – by Environment Minister John Gormley – with the following;

“It is all very well for Mr Gormley to hawk our heritage on the world stage, with the promise of a pay-off in terms of tourism revenue, but the real test is whether it is really valued at home. As Fine Gael’s heritage spokesman, James Bannon, pointed out, the Minister’s much-heralded legislation to strengthen the protection for national monuments has been languishing on the Dáil schedule for more than two years, with no date indicated for its publication.

Mr Bannon branded this inexplicable delay as a “huge stumbling block to the preservation of our heritage”.

Instead of playing to the gallery internationally, Mr Gormley must publish the Bill without further delay to demonstrate his bona fides.”

Tough words? Perhaps not. Minister Gormley has been no stranger to inaction on heritage issues. In a recent article (linked below), I used material from a ‘Village’ magazine interview, in contrast to two newspaper reports, to cast some light on the shadier parts of Green Party heritage rhetoric and, particularly, the reasons given for lack of progress. After reading the admonition above, it may be worth looking at that content again.

In the specific area of Unesco submissions, the sore thumb is, obviously, John Gormley’s ’unstoppable’ road through Tara and the same minister’s behaviour on the National Monuments Legislation carries a large lump of déja vu – more big words and no deeds. In the ‘Village’ interview he proclaims this anticipated bill as “visionary”, but maybe that should really have read as ’a vision’. Just working out ‘de lay’ of the land for a while, I suppose.

Don’t worry anyway, Mr. Bannon. I’m sure that he’ll find some way to make your stumbling block look better. What was that quote about the M3? “But what we have done is to use our position to ensure that the excesses – the terrible planning that you find along motorways – that simply won’t happen along that route – and I can guarantee that.”

There you go. And next time you need a kick in the teeth, make sure that the person involved wears sneakers.

“Men who talk about their importance for mankind have a weak conscience about their common bourgeois honesty in keeping contracts or promises.”

Previous Heritage Journal Articles on John Gormley:

John Gormley/Tara: The Wearing of the Green

John Gormley on how to destroy Irish heritage kindly