Ministers Darragh O’Brien, TD, and Malcolm Noonan, TD, announce €7 million in heritage funding in boost to jobs and town centres
The multi-million euro heritage package announced over the last week will create jobs in the heritage sector and communities right across the country, rejuvenate town centres, protect wildlife and preserve ancient monuments and support community groups.
A total of five schemes are included in the funding announced over the course of the week by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD, along with The Heritage Council.
Community Monuments Fund - €2m
A Record €2m for the protection and promotion of archaeological heritage under the Community Monuments Fund forms a major part of the package. This represents an increase of 75% in funding on last year.
The Community Monuments Fund is run by the Department’s National Monuments Service and aims to conserve, maintain, protect and promote archaeological monuments. The funding is available to custodians and owners of archaeological monuments. It will help bolster people working in the heritage sector and many jobs will be created in building conservation and other traditional skills. Thousands of hours of employment will be created for stone masons, conservation architects, archaeologists and others working in heritage-related fields. It is anticipated that more than 120 projects across the country will receive assistance under the scheme this year.
Historic Towns Initiative - €1.5m
Also included in last week’s announcement is a significant €1.5m to boost employment and stimulate the economy in 10 historic Irish towns. In keeping with the Town Centres First policy set out in the Programme for Government, the Historic Towns Initiative (HTI) is a joint undertaking by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Heritage Council which aims to promote the heritage-led regeneration of Ireland’s historic towns.
Successful applicants under the 2021 initiative were announced last week and include Listowel, Co Kerry, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, Ballina, Co. Mayo, Roscommon Town, Sligo, Tramore, Co Waterford, Birr, Co Offaly, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Navan, Co Meath and Callan, Co Kilkenny.
The €1.5m in capital funding will help to provide jobs and economic stimulus as well as aiding the rebuilding of local economies with heritage as a focal point.
Local Authority Biodiversity Grant Scheme - €1.35m
Separately, the Department has made available €1.35 million under the Biodiversity Grant Scheme – double the previous years allocation. This comprises €850k for grants that support actions under the National Biodiversity Action Plan and €500k for local-authority led projects to tackle invasive alien species in their areas. IAS are species not native to an area, but which are able to establish themselves, spreading quickly, causing environmental and economic damage.
First launched in 2018, funding under the Local Authority Biodiversity Grant Scheme has increased significantly from the €700k provided last year. The scheme is operated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Community Heritage Grant Scheme - €1.3m
The Heritage Council’s Community Heritage Grant Scheme - which led to the discovery of historic Jack B Yeats paintings in 2020 – has received a major boost, with a fund totalling €1.3million allocated this week.
The Heritage Council is now accepting applications from community groups and not for profit organisations right across the country. Details can be found on the Heritage Council website www.heritagecouncil.ie.
Heritage Sector Support Fund (The Heritage Council) - €660,000
In a separate announcement, more than €660,000 has been offered to 24 organisations under the Heritage Sector Support Fund, a scheme run by The Heritage Council.
It supports not-for-profit and heritage-focused groups who deliver a relevant programme of work.
BirdWatch Ireland and the Irish Georgian Society have both been offered €50,000 towards their operational costs in 2021.
Speaking today, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD said, ‘Last year I was delighted to secure over €95m for our heritage in 2021. The last week’s announcements demonstrate how that funding is being invested in innovative heritage initiatives right across the country, resulting in really positive outcomes for our built, archaeological and natural heritage and the communities that care for them. I am particularly pleased that ten towns right across the country will benefit from the Historic Towns Initiative, as it is through such heritage-led regeneration that we can truly deliver on our promise to put Town Centres First’.
Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, TD, added, ‘Along with Minister O’Brien, I was very pleased to secure an increase of over 50% in our heritage budget for this year. The schemes announced this week will support communities and towns across the country in protecting and preserving the heritage in their care. I would like to thank the Heritage Council for its role in delivering many of these important schemes, including its support to heritage organisations impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.’
Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning Peter Burke TD said:
“Many of the schemes announced this week would not be possible without our Local Authorities who administer them. I am very grateful to the staff in our Councils for the expertise that they bring to this task and for the important role they play in protecting our shared heritage.”
Virginia Teehan, the Chief Executive of the Heritage Council commented:
“The Heritage Council is very pleased to be in a position to play such a central role in the preservation and promotion of Ireland’s rich and varied heritage.
In particular, heritage-led regeneration is an important priority of ours and we very much look forward to working with the Department on this.”
Mr Michael Parsons, Heritage Council chairman, added:
“It is wonderful to be in a position to support such a range of projects across the country. Programmes overseen by The Heritage Council play a pivotal role in preserving Ireland’s heritage for future generations.”