Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, has announced the publication of the Historic and Archaeological Heritage Bill 2023, marking an important milestone in the modernisation of the law that underpins the protection of our archaeological heritage.
Welcoming the publication of the Bill, Minister Noonan said, “the publication of the Historic and Archaeological Heritage Bill is a major milestone in making Ireland’s historic heritage protections fit for the 21st century. The work involved in revising and updating the 1930 Act has been substantial, and I know today’s publication of the Bill will be warmly welcomed by everyone who cares about our unique and irreplaceable heritage. We are so fortunate to have countless examples of priceless monuments and archaeological objects, both on land and under the seas, that are admired the world over. This new legislation will ensure their protection for generations to come.”
As set out in the Bill, our historic heritage is of great cultural and scientific importance that tells the story of the development of Irish society and inspires public understanding and appreciation of the past. While the National Monuments Act 1930, and subsequent amending Acts, have provided a solid basis for the protection of our monuments and archaeological objects over many years, a revision of the existing legislation is now considered necessary.
The Bill contains a range of proposals intending to help streamline existing systems and processes, and provides for the State to ratify some key international conventions in the area of heritage protection, should the government decide to do so. There are also proposals for innovative measures, such as legal protection for new finds of archaeological sites, a single integrated licencing system, statutory codes of practice, and a civil enforcement system to be used as an alternative to, or to supplement criminal proceedings.
Minister Darragh O’Brien added, “it is vital that our historic heritage continues to be protected and conserved and this Bill will see substantial improvements and innovations to the existing legislative framework. I look forward to its initiation in the Houses of the Oireachtas.”