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10 May 2010
Irish National Monuments Bill in final stage

A new National Monuments Bill for Irleand that will introduce a single licensing regime for all archaeological activities is in the final stages of being drafted. Heads of the Bill were approved by the Government last month. Running to 400 pages, the new Bill would replace existing legislation dating back to the first National Monuments Act in 1930. It includes a 2004 Act which made it easier to override archaeology in the interest of development.
     Key objectives of the new legislation are to maintain a balance between development needs and archaeological protection and to support Government policies aimed at ensuring cost-effective implementation of infrastructure programmes. "Protecting and promoting an appreciation and awareness of Ireland’s unique built heritage while also facilitating continued economic and social development are central tenets of the Bill," Minister for the Environment John Gormley said. His responsibilities include archaeological protection.
     The new Bill, when enacted, is intended to "eliminate anomalies and inconsistencies in this code that have arisen over the years and will provide a more effective regulatory regime for the recording and protection of monuments". It would provide a new code to replace the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2004, including a single register of monuments to replace existing statutory and non-statutory records. All monuments will have either 'special' protection or 'general' protection. There would also be a statutory mechanism for the reporting of finds of all new discoveries of monuments and for prescribing certain classes of archaeological monument to be subject to general protection, following discovery.
     The Bill would introduce a 'single consistent system' for regulating archaeological works in relation to all types of development, both in the public and private sectors. There would also be a more efficient licensing system for excavations, effectively providing for a single licence for archaeological works relating to a particular project, rather than a multiplicity of licences and consents which can be required at present.

Source: The Irish Times (10 May 2010)

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