Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
435. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to erect a permanent memorial at Letterfrack Industrial School Children’s Graveyard, Clifden, County Galway, in memory of the children who died there; if the visitors centre interpretative office, located in one of the school buildings will provide some brochures with information on the history attached to Letterfrack Industrial School and to include a map of the children’s graveyard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23075/11]
449. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has responsibility for the Connemara National Park and the visitor centre; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that despite part of the park and the visitor centre being located on the grounds of Letterfrack Industrial School that the centre does not acknowledge the history of the school; if he will ensure that this history is integrated into the visitors centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23221/11]
Connemara National Park was established in 1980, combining land from a number of sources, including Kylemore Abbey, Coillte Teoranta and a number of private landowners. The Park is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of my Department.
The main remit of NPWS is the conservation of our natural heritage and the National Park provides a valuable amenity for both locals and visitors to the area and encourages the development of sustainable tourism in the locality. The main purpose of the Park’s exhibition area is to interpret the landscape and natural heritage of the National Park and the surrounding area through information exhibits and special events, such as children’s activities, guided walks and evening talks which are organised throughout the year.
While the graveyard and some outbuildings from the former Letterfrack Industrial School lie within the boundaries of the National Park the main building which housed the School does not. With regard to the graveyard itself, its enhancement was facilitated and funded by the NPWS and the area is treated with dignity and respect and is cared for by NPWS staff who maintain it to the highest standards. In addition, there is appropriate signage in place where the access path to the graveyard leaves the main route in the Park.
The appropriate means of highlighting the history of the Letterfrack Industrial School and other such institutions and any commemoration of those who spent time there are matters that falls outside the primary remit of the NPWS and may be more appropriate to the Department of Education and Skills. I understand from enquiries made to that Department’s Residential Institution Redress Unit that, as part of the implementation of the recommendations of the Ryan Report, an independent committee was appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills to oversee the design and commissioning of a memorial for those affected by institutional abuse. Following the consultative process, a competition is being organised and administered on behalf of the committee by the Commissioners of Public Works. The competition is open to all, including those who might wish to make proposals for an appropriate memorial to those affected by institutional abuse in Letterfrack Industrial School. I am advised that the closing date for receipt of expressions of interest is Thursday 13of October 2011 and details of the competition, including selection criteria, indicative dates and competition jury membership, is available on at www.education.ie and www.publicart.ie.
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