Wednesday, 12 December 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
20. Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage Gaeltacht and the Islands when she expects to publish the consolidated national monuments Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31817/01]
Miss de Valera: As I stated in my reply to Question No. 32 of 8 November, I am pleased that the draft heads of legislation for the proposed consolidation of national monuments legislation were approved by the Government in October and are now with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.
My Department will work closely with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on the complex task of drafting the legislation which involves 86 heads. Given its size and complexity, it is too early to say when the Bill will be published.
Miss de Valera: After all of the work that I and my officials have done, we obviously want to have this published and discussed. That is my intention. This is a very complex Bill containing 86 heads and it relates to legislation that has spanned 70 years. Today's environment is very different with regard to acknowledgement of the need to look after our heritage. The existing legislation is very fragmented and complex and I am trying to bring in consolidated legislation so that it will be much easier to see exactly what needs to be done and prevent the destruction of national monuments by ensuring that nobody is in any doubt about their obligation to respect our heritage. It will also tighten provisions where necessary and provide appropriate penalties for those who fail to comply with the law. This legislation will be very comprehensive. It is already with the Office of the parliamentary Counsel and we are working assiduously to bring it to publication stage.
Mr. O'Shea: There is also an arts Bill currently at drafting stage. What priority is being given to this Bill? Does the Minister really expect the House to believe we will see this Bill introduced, let alone passed through the Oireachtas, within the lifetime of this Government?
Miss de Valera: As the Taoiseach outlined during Question Time today, this Government can be proud of the amount of legislation it has put through this House. It has been phenomenal. It is for the very positive reason that so much legislation is going through the Office of the parliamentary Counsel and so much work is being done in the respective Departments that delays occur in moving legislation along. I am very proud of the legislative record in my Department which contrasts very well with that of the last Administration.
The Arts Bill, is a matter of priority. It is with the Office of the parliamentary Counsel and will be published in 2002. I want to see the fruits of the tremendous amount of consultation that has taken place both with the arts world and generally on the whole question of much needed new arts legislation on the 50th anniversary of the bringing into being of the Arts Council through legislation in 1951. I assure the Deputy that the work has been done. The Bill is with the parliamentary Counsel and we are doing our best to move all of the legislation along as quickly as possible.
Mr. McGinley: I am glad the Minister is attempting to prioritise both Bills, particularly the consolidated national monuments Bill, given that many national monuments are in a precarious situation because of development and so on. There are so many agencies responsible for different areas, it is a top priority to consolidate the structure. I understand the Bill is to be published early in 2002. Does the Minister envisage it being  passed before the election, whenever that happens?
Miss de Valera: If I had my way, I would be anxious to see it happen as quickly as possible. The arts Bill and the monuments Bill are important Bills which we would like to see published and passed. We will work closely with the parliamentary counsel to have both Bills published and implemented as soon as possible. There will be no delay in that regard in my Department.
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