Just in from the Heritage Council:
Ireland’s Heritage Sector Decimated by Punitive Cuts
Heritage Council warns of job losses and tourism setback
Punitive cuts, announced in last Tuesday’s Budget, will decimate the heritage sector and close many small enterprises that are dependent on it. This will have detrimental effects on both our national heritage and the quality of our tourism offering, according to the Heritage Council.
The Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government’s Heritage Unit, which has responsibility for protected structures, including world heritage sites, suffered a 77% budget cut. National Parks and Wildlife, whose remit includes the protection of our natural heritage and running all our national parks, suffered a 56% cut. The Heritage Council, whose role is to protect, preserve and enhance Ireland’s national heritage, suffered a 47% cut. This is on top of a 30% cut in 2010.Speaking about the situation, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, Michael Starrett commented, “We are extremely concerned about the disproportionate nature of the cuts to the Heritage sector. While the heritage sector recognises that it must share the burden of the cuts required to tackle the country’s economic crisis, the cuts announced last Tuesday are completely disproportionate in comparison to other Departmental cuts. As a result, the future of heritage initiatives nationwide which have created hundreds of jobs, empowered local communities and enhanced the value of heritage as a tourism resource, are severely threatened”.
Declaration of interest: I have occasionally done work for the Heritage Council or for other bodies that received Council funding.
The interesting thing about this is that the budget for the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government as a whole is down 23.0%: 30.1% on capital and 7.3% on current. Staff numbers are down 4.6% and those in local authorities down 4.7%.
Within the department, housing is down 31%, water services down 10%, environment down 66%, waste management down 75%, local government down 31%, heritage overall down 60%, planning down 14% and other services down 22%. However, administration is up 2%.